Yesterday morning my daughter asked me what I remembered about elementary school. I hadn’t actually given it much thought before, but I was surprised how little I actually could remember. I recall a few things that I can place in specific grades, like taking my nap under my desk in kindergarten, but mostly I remember disjointed things that could have happened anywhere and anytime. I remember third grade the best, but even that is limited to three concrete memories: (1) Mrs. Forbes was my teacher, (2) she read us a book, which I think was called Ten Weeks With a Circus and the whole class cried when the monkey got shot out of a tree, and (3) I wrote my first short story as a class assignment, a mystery-thriller (of sorts) called “The Spooky House”. That assignment is what hooked me for life on fiction writing. I still have the story, which is amazing considering how much I’ve moved around in my life.
I know early childhood memories are fuzzy at best for most adults, but I find it amazing how elusive those memories have become for me. It’s almost as if that part of my life never happened (how very Philip K. Dick). I’m amazed how these forgotten, formative years, are what lay down the foundation for who we are as an adult. While I may not remember much about my elementary school years, those things are what made me what I am today. Actually, I find that incredibly interesting.
I wonder how much of what my daughter is experiencing now—all these things that are real and immediate to her—will she remember when she’s all grown up. Which of these early childhood memories about school, friends, and me will she still have in thirty years? Hmmm…I wish I had time machine; I don’t want to wait that long.