What is Your First Childhood Memory?

I have been thinking a lot about memories lately.

With all the new writing I am doing.

All my life I have believed my first childhood memory to be two linked moments when I was in a push chair looking at outdoor fresh water fish in a tank at a neighbours house. Our neighbour on the road that ran along the beach front had a line of concrete above-ground fish-tanks at their house. They were within walking distance so I am of the impression that my mother had me out for a walk in the pushchair.

My memory is of not being able to see the fish in the concrete ponds. I was in a push chair so I must have been quite young. No one was allowed in a push chair after they could confidently walk.

So let’s estimate 2 and a bit years old? It was winter I think.

This was not a movie style memory. There are two very clear still shots of the visit. Fragments.

The first is of sitting in the pushchair riding along on the footpath outside the fish tank place.

The second is a view from the entrance to their driveway; straight down the drive to the concrete fishtanks tanks that ran down the right hand side of the driveway. A couple with green water in them. A few empty. The concrete was stippled with beach stones, not smooth. Grey and black and white and sharp. But the driveway was smooth and green with a little patch of tufty grass running down the middle.

I have the impression of disappointment and wintry dreariness.

I have two – well three – problems with this memory. The shot of me outside the fence on the footpath was from the side. Shooting straight into the pushchair – low from the side. How could I see it from the side if I was IN the pushchair. The second problem is the view of the fish tanks – I would have to have been high up to see them lined up like that. My memory tells me I was in the pushchair the whole time. We just popped in on the way to somewhere. And thirdly I cannot remember my mother taking anyone for a walk. She was not a friendly walky visity pop – in kind of person.

Or, maybe she was a friendly kind of person before the car accident scarred her face and took her voice and her teeth.

Maybe there was a pre-accident Mary and a post-accident Mary. It is possible. Probable even. I never thought about that before.

In those old beach houses there was a lot of concrete in the front yards. Often no grass at all. The gardens were in the backyard out of the sea winds. Concrete in the front. Low concrete walls, rocks set into concrete, concrete surrounded flower beds filled with beach stones – small areas for some stunted dry beach plants and maybe a pine. Low concrete walls and high concrete walls. A lot of the landscaping in those post 40’s beach front properties was uninspired concrete. Easy maintenance maybe?

The concrete was often coloured too – green or pink and always too hot for our bare feet.

Profoundly ugly. Skinned knees. No running.

pig eating capsicum
pig food

(WaiWai only likes to eat whole orange or red capsicums – he won’t eat green ones! The bottom shot is the Big Pigs dinner – they like their veges chopped up!)

I wonder where the rest of that day out walking with my Mum went. Can the memory bank get full? And memories spill like kittens out of a box and run away?

old ride on mower under big tree.

My chariot awaits. Time to start mowing .

weather april 28
sun rise sun set march 28 2023

The days are getting longer. It is very still and very overcast today and my face aches. Which means the barometric pressure is dropping. I wish I had a working barometer again. Mine is broke. My face is my barometer now.

So, what is your earliest memory?

Have a gorgeous day!


65 Comments on “What is Your First Childhood Memory?

  1. I am all in with Wai- no green peppers for me either!

    Memories are such odd things and I often wonder as I get years older which ones are real and which ones I have perhaps made up, or at least combined with others into something I think I recognize. The earliest one I know for sure was around age 5. Someone- mom or sister wanted to do something awful with my hair. I do know I was dressed up in my favorite lavender skirt and sweater outfit, did not want my hair messed with and so ran to “hide” under the dining table being sure that no one would attempt to crawl under to pull me out. I do not remember though how it all ended so probably not in the way I had hoped!

  2. Memories are so unreliable!
    I have what is probably a created memory that happened on the same day as one that I know was real. I was three years old and my older sister was babysitting me. It was Christmastime, so I had taken my mom’s pinking shears and was cutting little triangles; the pinking made them look like Christmas trees. I remember distinctly thinking that my hair would look lovely like that, so I started chopping it off. I can see my little hand holding out my hair and giving it a big cut. Now, the fake memory is of me sitting on the counter with my sister frantic and chopping away at my hair trying to repair the damage. I see the whole scene, my whole body, so I know my brain created this one based on what my sister’s recounting of the story so many times.

  3. My earliest,I was maybe three years old. My Dad was stationed at Ft Campbell in Kentucky. I was just wandering around the houses on the base waiting for my sister to get home from school. She is four years older and was always doing stuff I couldn’t. It just wasn’t fair.

  4. I have a memory from the womb, likely just as I was being born. It was a nightmare dream that scared me when I was younger but once I realized what it was it no longer frightened me.

      • Haha! yes indeed it was quite frightening. However once I understood what it really was it filled me with wonder. As well, that the nightmare disappeared in an instant was itself quite remarkable.

  5. I remember putting stones into the back compartment on my three wheeler bike, pretending it was shopping. You don’t see them anymore. Ohh and making mud pies
    I don’t know how old I was about three I suppose.

    • Mud pies!! Yes – we used to make those on the beach. I loved our old trike also – in fact I think it was passed down through every single one of us kids. An old metal one with the rusted red tray in the back. So useful for fantasy play. Great memory!!

  6. I remember being around a year old, at most, not walking or talking yet. My mother had taken me to visit a neighbor and I was under the table where they sat chatting and laughing. I was miserable because I had on a scratchy wool sweater and bonnet and it was far too hot inside. I kept tugging at my mother’s skirt to get her attention and I can still feel the frustration of not being able to speak! I’m sure my family later wished I had stayed mute much longer. The year was probably 1947.

    • That is a very cool memory. Remembering your frustration like that! I bet the time before we could communicate was a very frustrating period for each person. I am glad I can’t remember it. And feeling the scratchiness of the jumper. A great memory. Thank you!

  7. One of my favorite memories is waking up on a beautiful spring day. My windows open, the robins chirping, and all the cherry trees in bloom.
    We lived in a huge fruit orchard—it was bliss

  8. My grandfather died three days after my fourth birthday. I remember mom crying in the phone. I also remember a storm blowing down the tree that held my swing. I’m not sure which memory came first. I also remember cups lined up along the dining room windowsill to catch the drips in a storm as the windows leaked. All the same era and which came first, I don’t know! I also stuck a whole sheet of stickers on my toy box when I was possibly even younger!

    • A collection of real memories. Seeing your mother cry is such a big moment for a kid. That may have been the hook that the kept the other memories with you. How awful losing your swing in a storm! Thank you Gretchen!

      • Yes, I’m sure the traumatic moment of Mom crying is what kept that memory alive. And yes, the swing- I was still sure Dad could fix anything at that age so I asked him but he couldn’t fix the tree! (He did rehang it elsewhere!)

  9. I’m with WaiWai too. Green means acid reflux. Reds are okay. I remember being in a baby bed for naps and having a pink blanket that I could pull tufts of, then throw them on the floor. The floor was a shiny yellow wood.

  10. I used to suck my thumb, so my mother painted it with something brown, then fitted a little wire cage around it and tied it to my wrist with a thin, white gauze. I started kindergarten at 4, so I had to be younger, since I wasn’t sucking my thumb by then.

  11. I wonder if somebody picked you up to look into the fishtank on that day or another and your memories have combined into one.
    I’ve got loads of very early memories – I remember most of my childhood from a very early age. My poor sister can’t remember a thing!
    I distinctly remember feeding the ducks in the Park at Pinner and going to see the peacocks at what we called “the Peacock Farm” – Child Beale Wildlife Park near Pangbourne – we begged to go there whenever it was possible.

      • It’s about 40 miles West of London on the river Thames. Back in the 60s it seemed like lots of peacocks and other birds running wild. These days, realtive to their website, it looks unapealing – they seem to have turned it into a zoo. But, they do have KuneKunes and Berkshires …it is in Berkshire after all! https://bealepark.org.uk/

  12. Every time we recall, or more specifically rewind, a childhood memory, your brain rewrites and restores it to a new location. This is why two people witnessing the same incident will recall it slightly differently years later. Also, your adult brain can’t decipher a child’s perspective and reaction, as it’s not the same as an adult would perceive it. If that makes sense.

    • Misky – I thought you were on holiday. And yes that is exactly right. But curious and kind of cool too. I am going to have to think more about the new location info. That is a very interesting concept

      • Returned home a few hours ago. You were my first stop. And now to bed; hols are exhausting.

  13. I’m also with Wai Wai… no green capsicum…ewww.
    My first memory is easy and probably the only one which isn’t in the form of snapshots.
    We moved house. According to Dad I’d barely started to walk. So it was 1967 and I was about 16 months old. And my mum had begun to get sick but didn’t know it yet. I recently put up a pic on Insta and my blog of just before it happened. I can remember being in my new room, with my white wardrobe which the drawers hadn’t been put back in, and climbing the runners. Being empty, it’s weight toppled it over onto the floor and me. I can remember it on top of me, and later I have a tactile memory of the cast on my leg. My next oldest memory after I could walk again isn’t much better. I was chasing my red with sparkly gold stars ball in the front yard, tripped, fell on the spike attached to the water meter, missing my left eye by about a centimetre. I still have the scar. Lucky we lived one block down from the hospital where I was born. My poor parents.

  14. Mine is truly cherished, I was mobile but not too speedy so pretty young. I was with my dad and we had his bird dogs out for a run in a rural area and my dad showed me you could eat sweet corn raw. Who knew! Loved those outings with my dad and the dogs.

  15. My earliest memory is from when I was between two and three. My brother and I had been on a camping trip with my paternal grandmother, great-grandmother and great aunt. I had fallen into the campfire. That’s all story to me. What I remember is sitting on a high table. To my left is a row of oak cabinets on the wall and a counter. I see a doctor’s white coat and my grandmother’s face. It’s just a flash of vision. I think it’s from when they were examining my burns and patching me up, applying the dressing.

    And I’m with Wai-Wai: I’ll eat hot green capsicums, but not the sweet ones (We call them green peppers here).

  16. (Trying again in two parts after 4 failures yesterday!)
    I love reading all these memories!
    Here is my earliest memory at less than 2 years old (from the first page of my memoir ‘Touching Snow’ about my Taranaki NZ childhood):

    ‘She lifted me up, hedge-high. Suddenly I was face to face with another little girl, just my size, who was being lifted up on the other side of the hedge. We gazed at each other from the safety of our mothers’ arms. We reached out but our arms were short and stubby, not long enough to touch. It was then that I saw the pink and white trumpet flowers stretching their necks out of the dark foliage, crying ‘Touch me! Touch me!’

  17. I love reading all these memories!
    Here is my earliest memory at less than 2 years old (from the first page of my memoir ‘Touching Snow’ about my Taranaki NZ childhood):

    ‘She lifted me up, hedge-high. Suddenly I was face to face with another little girl, just my size, who was being lifted up on the other side of the hedge. We gazed at each other from the safety of our mothers’ arms. We reached out but our arms were short and stubby, not long enough to touch. It was then that I saw the pink and white trumpet flowers stretching their necks out of the dark foliage, crying ‘Touch me! Touch me!’

    • A little friend and the flowers. That is a very sweet image the mothers talking over the fence and lifting the children up to say hullo to each other. I love that one.

  18. Part two: (7th time trying to post!)

    This was my first memory. Something about that surprising lift out of the ordinary left a deep thumb print in my sponge-like sensibility. My mother’s lift showed me a different hedge: not the clipped leafy barrier I saw from my place on the ground, but a flowering wonder sprouting wild secrets from its top. At the same time I was offered the little girl, the same size as me: a possible friend.

    This may have been the beginning of my desire to see further, to know what lay over the hedge, across the bridge, up the mountain and later over the ocean, into foreign language, landscape and culture and eventually across time and space.’

      • Yes! I see how that memory expanded into a lifetime of exploring. Really wonderful. And again thank you so much for persevering – a couple of your attempts did come through.

        • Yes, I got there in the end. Sorry about the double posting. I hoped you could remove the duplicate. The system seemed to need a few hours to digest the post and finally show it!

  19. My very earliest memory is of being in my grandparents’ dining room. It was at the back of the house and had french doors out into the back yard, and the light in the room was green and watery, quite beautiful. We lived next door to the grandparents, the houses had a common wall and the interiors were mirror images, but I know it was the grandparents’ because the walls were not white, the curtains were dark and heavy instead of pale linen and there were pictures and a sideboard instead of book cases! The second memory is of walking out of our front gate and up the road a short way to meet Pa from the train, my mother holding my hand. I was less than two, as I remember Ma being ‘fat’ (ie, pregnant with my younger sister), so we wouldn’t have made it much of the quarter mile to the station!

  20. I hate green sweet peppers too. Sometimes we buy a bag of mixed colours because it is cheaper – but I have to chop up the green ones really small to disguise them in things.
    My earliest memory is watching the first moon landing on TV when I was three. But I genuinely have almost no memories of my childhood at all.

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