When I was a young girl, I always had a fascination with stories. As an adult now in my mid-twenties, that fascination has only increased with a tendency towards nostalgia. I’ve always enjoyed hearing about my parents’ childhood experiences and even those of my older siblings which I would have been too young to remember, perhaps not even yet born. To that end, I reflected on my own early childhood and thought I would share some of my own experiences.
My earliest memories date back to the time living in Clare. Living in, what was to a small child, a large bungalow with my parents and two older brothers and older sister provided ample opportunity for causing mischief. One of my fondest memories from that period concerned the book unit in the long narrow hallway.
The unit was made of dark wood and was chipped along the edge of the shelves. It stood against the mustard yellow of the wall beside the large wooden frame of the sitting room door, on the right hand side of the hall. The colour of the unit complemented the wooden floor perfectly, a jigsaw of tan and dark brown pieces slotting together to create an abstract picture.
The shelves were lined with books from one end to the other, except for the bottom which housed old magazines and souvenir programmes. A huge chunk of amethyst glistened on the middle shelf. The deep purple fanning out into shimmering silvery-white fingers always attracted my child’s eye.
I was always particularly fascinated with that book unit. At the age of 3, I was already quite a keen “reader”. The neat rows of journals lining the bottom shelf were never safe from my twitchy little hands. Nothing used to please me more than to pull out a magazine and squat on the jigsaw-floor flicking through the pictures. I was an avid reader and never satisfied with only one magazine I would pull out another five or six and look through them. Any journal that had very little or no pictures at all was instantly shoved away from the mounting pile on the floor.
After I had “read” a few magazines, I amused myself by pulling the rest of the stack onto the floor and scattering them around the long narrow hallway. At the tender age of 3, I wasn’t to know that one else would find this as amusing as I did, least of all my father. I remember very well how quickly the smile would disappear from his face when he saw the wonderful chaos that I had created around me. All of Dad’s carefully arranged magazines and books, strewn across the hall! No matter how many times he gave out to me I never gave up my favourite past-time. Almost as soon as the journals were cleared up I would throw them across the floor once again. I think maybe now, Dad can laugh at that incident and see the humour in it as I did then and still do today.
Although my childhood in Clare was a very happy one I can also recall some unpleasant memories, though they seem quite funny looking back on them. I remember one such incident which involved an episode of Bosco. Every afternoon after playschool I used to watch Bosco religiously on television whilst eating my lunch. One such day, I was sitting in the gigantic purple armchair in the large sitting room. My legs dangled off the chair, floating well above the carpet and I balanced a plate of baked beans on my lap. I remember watching the pasty-white puppet, dressed in green and white stripes, his red yarn-like hair bobbing up and down as he interacted with the presenters. Bosco then decided to whistle for one of his friends and put two of his fingers into his mouth and blew. Bosco was my idol so, of course, I wanted to copy him. I too stuck my fingers in my mouth and tried to whistle. Unfortunately for me, Bosco neglected to point out that you shouldn’t try to whistle after eating baked beans. It also seemed to be unnecessary to stick your fingers right down your throat. Inevitably, I threw up on the carpet and over myself as well. I didn’t cry, I didn’t laugh. I just held up my fingers and looked at them in wonder and then at that fiendish little puppet on the TV. Needless to say, I wasn’t such a fan after that.
There are some memories that we all hold on to forever, no matter what. Really sweet moments that are almost like dreams. I have a teddy of Minnie Mouse in my room in Dundalk. She’s of medium size, with big ears and big eyes. She wears a pink dress with white polka dots and a matching bow. Her shoes are blue with pink hearts for buckles. I’ve had her since I was 4 years old and I will never forget the moment I got her. My dad had been away on a business trip in the States. The night he came back, his flight arrived late in Shannon airport and I was long in bed by the time he got home. I remember being woken by the opening and closing of the front door and hearing my father’s deep, comforting voice in the hallway. I remember seeing through half-closed eyes the door of my bedroom opening and a tall figure striding softly towards my bed. He stroked my curly hair and placed the beautiful Minnie Mouse teddy beside me in the bed. My dad kissed me goodnight and quietly left the room. I squeezed Minnie and softly drifted back off to sleep.
I’ve only shared 3 of my stronger memories but of course I have plenty more and from much later on in life as well. It’s interesting what people remember and how. Why not have a go and see if you can pick out your earliest memory – you might actually surprise yourself.