“Mummy, do you remember the blue one? The one I threw in the toilet?”
“Sure, Rose, I remember the blue toothbrush you threw in the toilet.”
“That was AAAAAGES ago.”
“Yep, probably six months ago.”
Rose has a scary memory. “Scary” in that she remembers a lot of inconsequential things I only make a passing note of. “Scarier” when it’s stuff that I’d rather she forgets, such as occasionally telling people, “Grandad gave me a glass of wine!”*. Her carers at school have mentioned it. A few weeks ago we were walking up the road and Rose said, “I want an erigeron!” At this point I assumed that she was making up a word. Maybe erigerons were something to do with the world of logidolls and longyongs? Or related to “cutrose”, the imaginary drink that Rose is always talking about. Rose looked annoyed and pointed at some daisies. Erigerons are plants? It turns out that Granny Anne had taught her that name at her last visit, before Christmas.
I guess I’m not really sure of how memories are formed at her age. I’ve been working under the vague assumption that because children can’t usually permanently remember stuff that happens before the age of about 4 or 5 surely she wouldn’t remember stuff that happened 6 months or a year ago. Or maybe it’s just that some seemingly innocuous things to us are more memorable to her because it’s her first time? Or perhaps said innocuous moments are connected to some more powerful important experience of feeling something for the first time? Maybe she was remembering Daddy and Mummy being mad at her about the toothbrush, or the fact that she couldn’t brush her teeth for about a week because we kept forgetting to buy a new toothbrush at the shops?
Chris had a watertight memory before the age of 26. He can still remember movies we went to see back in the mid-90s**, what I was wearing and who we went with. He remembers if I fell asleep and major characters’ names. This is all a kind of magic to me, having always had an elusive grasp on the finer details. I’m good at remembering which ones of my friends hated each other in high school but terrible at remembering who was the engineer on the 3rd Who album (even though I’ve read Keith Moon’s biography, like, six times!).
Interestingly, and frustratingly for us, this memory of hers is never in play when it comes to useful things such as remembering to take her favourite toy when we go to day care. Also, she still continues to ask the same questions every day, even when the answer has. never. changed.
“Mummy, can I have a bit more toothpaste?”
* Honestly, I can’t believe that I haven’t told this story yet. I hope you forgive me for telling it now, Dad. One night before we moved and all our stuff was packed up we were eating dinner and drinking out of plastic cups. Chris was drinking some wine in a plastic cup. He got up to do some more packing and Dad and I stayed at the table eating and talking. I was feeding Tess and Dad was managing Rose. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Dad pick up a plastic cup and give it to Rose. She took a sip, grimaced, and then drank the glass. Off somewhere in the distance, a dog barked. I stood up! I realised what had just happened! I’m sure you can picture what happened next: A lot of rushing about, a bit of shouting and hand-wringing, and there might’ve been a cold bath. Rose was totally fine.
**He even corrected me that it was “mid-9os”, not “early-90s” as I originally had.