I’m amazed at how quickly children forget things – things we used to do every day.
The other day Hannah asked me what my full name was. I told her.
And then I thought of something.
“Don’t you remember the song I used to sing you, with all of our names in it?
You used to ask me every day – sing all of us Mummy.”
A blank stare.
“Don’t you remember it at all?”
“No-o,” she repeated, this time with Attitude.
So I sang it again, at the tea table.
Ben grinned, open-mouthed and slightly incredulous.
Mike looked a little uncomfortable.
“Oh,” said Hannah, “I don’t think I remember it.”
“But you asked for it. Every day. And you both loved it.” I am amazed and a little sad.
“I remember it Mummy,” Ben tries out the rarely attempted role of peace-maker.
“And I used to sing Daisy Daisy, in the car when Hannah was a baby to stop her from crying.”
“Yeah, her ears probably hurt too much for her to cry,” quips Ben.
It’s pushing the limits of cognitive ability to expect a baby and a two-year old to remember a song that was last popular in the music hall youth of their great grandmother.
But there’s another one they’ve forgotten. A more recent little moment that was repeated ad nauseam.
“What about all the times, every single tea-time, when Ben asked for ketchup and Hannah would say, I don’t like sauce, do I Mummy?
Every day, without fail.”
More blank stares.
Sometimes I wonder why we didn’t just sit in the kitchen for the first four years of their lives.
It would have been a lot easier. They don’t seem to remember any of the fantastic, fun, exciting, mundane, everyday stuff that made up their little lives back then.
Was there any point taking them to castles, National Trust gardens, beaches, museums, parks, moors, rivers, relatives’ houses, holidays, gymtots, swimming pools, NCT come-round-and-moan-about-their-sleeping-habits-while-spilling-coffee mornings?
(Well in the last case, it was more for me than for them, but they did get to sit next to other babies, stare thoughtfully into space and try to poke each other’s eyes.)
Not all these trips were in one year, and many were thanks to relatives or the NCT House Swap Register.
But there was a time, probably every summer up to the ages of 4 and 6, when I wondered why we made all that effort to get the four of us into a car and away to another place that didn’t have all the comforts of home, just to try to re-live those glorious pre-child holidays we remembered and still thought we could enjoy.
And now, it seems I was right to question the effort involved. They don’t even remember most of it.
There is one little leitmotif they do both remember, although I think it may be due to repeated post-event story telling by me rather than their own memories.
When Hannah was 2 and Ben was 4, he went through a stage of continually saying,
“Yes,” I replied dutifully. Every time.
“Nothing,” he would chortle.
Hannah would try her best to copy this hilarious exchange, and we’d end up with a grinning toddler giggling and yelling,
“Mummy nuffin! Mummy nuffin!”
To me it feels like just last week, but it was more than half a lifetime ago for them.
No wonder they don’t remember.
Their minds are too cluttered with today’s obsessions: nintendos and ballet and football and Cubs and friends and school and sleepovers and Easter eggs and puppies and presents…