What can you remember from when you were little? How far can you remember back? Honestly?
I think I can remember standing in my parent’s hallway back when I was about 5. Ginger curls and rosy cheeks.
The yellow painted woodchip wallpaper on he walls. A big full length mirror and mahogany stained door in the background. Standing there holding up my very first reading book from school.
Do I actually remember it, or do I just remember seeing a photograph of it? Or being told about it.
It’s truly amazing the tricks your mind can play. Building up pictures that never existed.
Real childhood memories are things to be cherished. Beautiful, or painful; laugh out loud, or mundane. Whatever the case, they’re ours and they’re something we keep and (perhaps) share with others. They make us who we are and are proof that life existed before the now and present.
There are memories and times that we’ve never forgotten. Imprinted because they were so significant at the time, like going abroad for the first time or breaking your knee, but sometimes they suddenly come back to us.
Something triggers it. A sound, a smell, a conversation with someone.
There are many, many things that can evoke childhood memories.
Here are just 10 things that I can think of. How many more have you experienced?
Going for a Walk
Take a walk down memory lane – it’ll surprise you!
I moved away from where I grew up when I was 18, but I go back on a pretty regular basis. I walked those routes to and from the shops, local town and school for years and it’s amazing the memories that come back.
My Mum cycling with us to primary school. My Dad walking me to secondary school on my first day in a big black coat that was way too warm for September. Walking into a road sign and banging my head when I was too busy looking the other way.
Walks are a time for self-reflection and a bit of peace and quiet. If you’ve taken one alone recently, you’ve probably surprised yourself at what comes out of your head. Walks also have the benefit of déjà vu – walking in a familiar place can evoke many memories of the past.
How many songs have stuck in your mind?
Do you remember the songs on the radio from when you first became interested in listening to it?
How about the alphabet song? Songs you learned to help you learn your times tables?
There’s the songs your Mother sang at home, the first song played at your wedding and the silly little songs that you sing to your kids (Mummy Shark anyone?)
I’ve seen people stop still and cry out in public when a certain song is played. Music, it seems, works its way deep into your subconscious. A direct link to your soul.
It’s personal and very memorable, which is why it’s used as a way for Alzheimer’s patients to recollect important moments.
If you hear a familiar story, even just the start of it, or a few lines from it, it’ll very often come flooding back.
And after studying Of Mice and Men for GCSE, I swear I can remember most of the story off by heart (I would imagine most people my age can).
There’s just something about hearing a certain pattern of words that you’ve heard before that prods at your memory.
You might remember who said them, where you read them, or why they’re significant.
To this day, when I hear the phrase “The time has come” I immediately think of the children’s book Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now! by the great Dr. Seuss. It’s one of my favourites.
A telling off
Seriously, I sometimes swear I can hear my mother coming out of my mouth when I scold my own children. History spookily repeating itself.
I was walking down the high street the other day when I heard a lady telling her daughter off for running too close to the road. She had run straight towards it without a care in the world, not understanding the implications.
I remember my brother being told off for the exact same thing in Windsor many, many years ago. I know we had gone for a day out and I remember the river, the road and lot of swans. I can’t remember how old we were, but it definitely stuck with me.
Whether it’s “don’t eat with your mouth open!” or “stop fidgeting!”, we tend to remember being told off. Seeing the same thing happen to other people’s children or telling off your own tends to evoke these memories.
Familiar voices or laughter
Some people have a really memorable way of talking or laughing. Of course everyone has a unique voice, but some people are in a class of their own.
Whether their voice is beautifully deep or startlingly high pitched. Whether they enunciate every letter or slur. Whether they snort when they laugh or sound like a drain, some people have really distinctive and recognisable voices.
Voices seem to have the same sort of effect on our memories as music. They are familiar and ingrained. So much so that even voices that sound similar have the power to evoke childhood memories. We remember how our loved ones speak and laugh. It can be a very thought-provoking experience.
Hands up if you remember smiley potato faces from when you were small? How about Angel Delight? Blacmange? Alphabetti spaghetti? Cadbury’s Chocolate Buttons? Strawberry laces?
Whether you loved them or loathed them, everyone has a kiddie food they remember - and they always get memories flowing.
I vaguely remember throwing up om a teacher in primary school at the mere sight of a bowel of semolina.
There are entire websites dedicated to finding the best school desert recipes, from chocolate crunch with strawberry custard to wellington fudge cake, so they must have left a lasting impression on quite a few people.
Whether it’s to the Spice Girls, Macarena or dancing on your daddy’s shoes, silly dances can evoke childhood memories.
Often, they’re lovely memories too, of time spent with family and friends. Parties, weddings and fun nights out.
It’s truly amazing how people seem to remember dance moves decades on from when they first learned them.
And because we typically get into different types of music throughout our lives, the memories they evoke have their own little timeline. They help us remember the people, the places and the feeling.
Whether it’s a beloved ginger tabby cat that slept on the end of your bed, a little white bunny rabbit or a dog that was your best friend for half your childhood, we always remember our childhood pets.
We don’t think about them all the time – but we certainly do when we see the same breed of animal, or a similar looking one. It might run across the road or jump on you at the park. Whatever the case, you remember and can evoke a lot of feelings.
It can also strongly influence the pets you choose as you get older, or indeed, whether you choose to have pets at all. Animals leave an impression on our hearts that is different to any other and often never goes away.
Old school electronics
Televisions with 4 channels and no remotes, floppy disks, CDs, cassette tapes, Nintendo 64 consoles, CRT monitors, pagers… old school electronics always seem to evoke childhood memories.
How many people remember being ridiculously excited about getting a Spectrum 48K or a Walkman for Christmas? Or playing Manic Miner or Chucky Egg for hours with their friends?
People get ridiculously nostalgic over this stuff. Nintendo recently brought out a replica of its Classic Mini Entertainment System with 30 old school games and it’s been selling like hot cakes!
There are however, huge number of millennials who’ve never heard of these things. Just wait 40 years and see what the teenagers then think of iphone.
The human nose can distinguish at least 1 trillion odours, and our sense of smell is closely linked with our memory – probably more so than any other of our senses.
Whether you remember your Mothers Chanel Number 5 perfume or the smell of burning logs from a camping trip fire. Christmas tree pine, or freshly mown grass from a picnic. Smells evoke memories from our past in volume.
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