What’s Your Earliest Memory?
By Denise Walker
Most people do not remember anything earlier than 3 or 3 1/2 years of age. Some people don’t remember anything before 6 or 7. And for some, it’s later than that.
Some are good memories some are not so good. Some are really big memories. And some seem inconsequential.
I do have a couple of memories from when I was three. I remember a cat that lived under our house. It was white with a few black spots. There was nothing earthshaking about this cat. It didn’t even belong to us. Interestingly,I don’t remember the dog that did belong to us. I named the cat Snoopy, because it reminded me of the Peanuts character. I remember that it had three kittens. My other memory from 3 was a little more traumatic. I remember standing in the road in front of our house. Our house was located at the very end of the road in our neighborhood. A group of boys who were a little bit older than me started throwing rocks and one of them hit me in the forehead. Funny the things we remember.
And why can’t most people remember things before they are 3?
Professor Catriona Morrison of the University of Bradford believes this suggests that autobiographical memories “emerge at the point at which we begin to start telling stories about our lives”. In another words, they’re linked to narrative and language.
There are all kinds of studies on this. And these studies can be very hard. What is a real memory? and what is something that you’ve heard that’s just been passed down?
I’ve even read that earliest memories can differ by culture.
It can be good to write down our memories because memories fade over time.
I found some writing prompts that could help!
Who was your best childhood friend? Write about some of the fun things you used to do together.
Describe one of your earliest childhood memories. How old were you? What bits and pieces can you recall?
When you were little, did you ever try to run away from home? What made you want to leave? What did you pack? How far did you get?
Can you remember your mom’s or grandmother’s kitchen? Use sight and smell words to describe it.
Describe the most unusual or memorable place you have lived.
Did you have your own bedroom growing up, or did you share with a sibling? Describe your room.
Were you shy as a child? Bossy? Obnoxious? Describe several of your childhood character traits. How did those qualities show themselves? Are you still that way today?
What childhood memories of your mother and father do you have? Describe a couple of snapshot moments.
Write about a holiday memory. Where did you go? What did you do? What foods do you remember?
Describe your favorite hideaway.
Did you attend a traditional school, or were you educated at home? Describe a school-related memory.
Think of a time when you did something you shouldn’t have done. Describe both the incident and the feelings they created.
Have you ever needed stitches, broken a bone, or been hospitalized? Describe a childhood injury or illness.
Do you have quirky or interesting relatives on your family tree? Describe one or two of them.
Describe your most memorable family vacation. Where did you go? Did something exciting or unusual happen? Did you eat new or unique foods?
Did you grow up with family traditions? Describe one.
Books can be childhood friends. What were some of your favorites? Why were they special?
Describe a game or activity you used to play with a sibling.
What was your most beloved toy? Describe its shape, appearance, and texture. What feelings come to mind when you think of that toy?
Think of a childhood event that made you feel anxious or scared. Describe both the event itself and the feelings it stirred up.
Write about some sayings, expressions, or advice you heard at home when you were growing up. Who said them? What did they mean? Do you use any of those expressions today?
What are your happiest childhood memories? Describe one event and the feelings associated with it.
Try to be at the vivid as possible when coming up with the answers to these questions. Sometimes writing these memories down can even be therapeutic. I hope it is for you.