Every so often, while in the company of Emilia, I find myself thinking, “Someday, she’s going to look back on this moment and laugh, or smile, or stare wistfully out the window of her space mansion and remember Saturday mornings spent listening to Car Talk and picking dried cheese off the kitchen floor.”
But the truth is, she probably won’t.
Not because she doesn’t want to, but because her brain is still developing and only just beginning to grasp the short-term.
The window of time before age one is, as far as a baby’s long-term memory goes, a wash (a very awesome wash filled with milestones and my own wonderful memories, but still…). As I come to terms with the fact that these shared recollections are actually pretty one-sided, I’ve been reflecting on what my brain has held onto from the early days of my own childhood.
This, in what may or may not be chronological order, is what I remember:
1. Eating deodorant. It tasted like a cross between a dying houseplant and fondant.
2. Finding myself facedown in the Ozarks’ cold, murky waters. I don’t know what the story is here. I’ve never asked, but I’m sure the reality was way less dramatic than the memory.
3. Shoving a dime into an electrical outlet. I was pretending it was a gumball machine. There were sparks. So many sparks.
4. Bits and pieces of a few Pinwheel episodes.
These blurred memories have two things in common: 1) they all stem from negative and/or traumatic events (Pinwheel aside – that has more to do with a lifelong love of television), and 2) they all conclude with a harrowing rescue and the comforting reassurance of my mother.
The memory of eating deodorant is immediately followed by the memory of my mom running in, gently removing the toxic snack from my hand, hugging me, and probably making a frantic call to poison control. She scooped me out of the water. She pulled me away from the sparking outlet. She spoke soothingly. She sat and watched Nickelodeon with me every morning.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that maybe, hopefully, if my own recollection is any indication of a very young child’s psyche, when Emilia thinks back on those first hazy memories, I’ll make an appearance or two. It’s a reminder to make every moment as pleasant as possible. To be an unwavering source of comfort. And to teach her that, despite looking so tempting, deodorant is actually not delicious. At all.