Friday, 5 May 2017

For A Little While

Memory is a funny thing.  I always wonder what things my children will remember from their childhood and what other things will slowly fade away.  Photos and repetition of stories help, but we know some things will be lost forever.

When Jack was a toddler he didn't play with traditional toys, and he was more than a little bit obsessed with "plugs".  He spent a great deal of time playing with random objects like bottle caps, sink stoppers, bathtub plugs, old door bells, and wine corks (he named his wine cork Corkia).  I'm not talking about a phase that lasted for a few weeks, this bordered on obsession, and lasted for at least a year (maybe even longer).  It got to the point where we had to limit his time with his plugs (which he called the family).  I looked back at past entries and I had written about "the family", and limiting obsessive tendencies with plugs several times because it was such an issue.

Last weekend, Jack came into the bedroom and handed me a brand new bathroom tub plug with a chain (one we had purchased him from the dollar store a few years ago).  As he plopped it into my hand he ask softly, "Why is this in my toy box? It's not a toy." I asked him if he was joking, he was not.  Even Molly was at a loss for words, having lived with a brother who would parallel play with his plugs as she used more traditional toys.  "Jackie, don't you remember the family and all of your plugs?" she asked.  He admitted he did, a little bit, and left his old plug on the table beside our bed because he no longer connected with it.

How could something he spent so many hours playing with, that was one of his comfort items in the toddler years be wiped clean as if the Men in Black had shown up with their magic mind eraser pen?

Image courtesy of Giphy

While this memory loss confounds us, it's actually really common and often referred to as childhood amnesia.  Research has determined that little kids can remember many things from when before they are three years old, but as they age, with seven years old being some sort of marker, their autobiographical memories from their younger years will disappear.  So there is nothing to worry about, although I must admit the loss of this memory makes me a little sad.

A Canadian based research study has found some of the cause, apparently, "When brains are busy growing lots of new cells, they don’t store memories that would otherwise be long-term."  The research has found that kids aged five to seven remember about 60 percent of their memories from early life, whereas kids aged eight or nine only remember 40 percent of these memories.

Research Patricia Bower says of memory studies surrounding children, "Early in development those structures are working, but not very efficiently -- children are forming memories, but through natural processes those are fading and becoming inaccessible. By the time you reach adulthood, those memories are working very effectively.”

One of the reasons I love keeping this blog up to date is to record moments that might otherwise disappear.  There are so many smaller things that would otherwise be lost, or go down the drain, especially now that the plugs are gone.

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  1. This actually makes me sad. Oh, Jackie. :( Stop growing up. -Liz

    1. Chris's sister told me to take a picture of the "family" and I'm glad we did. Yeah this breaks my heart a little too...even though we spent so much time hoping he'd play with real toys and not random objects...careful what you wish for much?