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Monday, April 30, 2012

Childhood

I've been reading Annie Dillard's An American Childhood and thinking about my own childhood, remembering it, trying to put a name to it. I asked myself: What did it mean to be a child? I decided that the one thing it means for sure is that I (the child) have no memory. When I was born, I had nothing in my brain (memories) to fall back on, to tell me what was going on, and that was the case for quite a few years.

As an adult, I can remember my very first memory. I recall it vividly. I was walking down the street, holding my father's hand. I had a diaper full of doo-doo. On the top of the fence pole, there was a large Lincoln Head Penny.

I was potty trained when I was two years old, so I had to have been two years old or less. I walked at around ten months of age, so they tell me, so I might have been one or two years old. Was that my first moment of self-realization? Why did that memory stay with me for the rest of my life, and nothing much else until I was older? What was so memorable about it? I can't say. It just is. Just like a child, I just was.

Being a child means learning how to remember--to remember without remembering. We forget almost everything we remember. Yet, we remember it all. It is within us. We just don't remember it. So being a child is all about memory.
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