I often think about what my earliest memories are. It's easy to look at a photo of yourself to jog your memory of a time, place, a person in your life, or an event. I know there are plenty of memories from when I was very young, and i can vaguely picture them- or in some cases, vividly remember these things, as my mother still talks about them.
I remember swimming with my brothers, from before dawn to long after dusk. From September to April each year, we'd spent more time in the water than out of it. Our parents would throw coins down to the bottom and I'd spend hours diving down to the bottom, practicing holding my breath because I was convinced if I could hold my breath long enough, I'd turn into a mermaid.
I can remember singing along to ABBA from a very young age, and Mum twirling me around the kitchen by my fingertips, her big pregnant belly bulging out in front of her. I remember being squashed into the backseat of our Laser, barely fitting the three kids born within four years.
I can remember the weekend road trips to the farm, pressing my face to the cool glass of the window, the only one awake in the backseat. I can vividly remember the lectures we would receive when we were at the farm, how if we saw a snake we were to run back to the house and tell Daddy and Poppy and Uncle Ben.
I remember being upset as a young girl when my father took my older brothers to the movies, knowing that my overactive imagination wouldn't be able to handle the animations without weeks of nightmares. That was the same day that my mother took me to a Play School concert, and I met George Spartels in the car park. The day itself it hazy, but I vividly remember shaking his hand in shock. the photographs (and the bragging that I did for weeks afterwards, as he was their favourite presenter as well) help to jog the memories of the day itself, but meeting George is something that stands out.
I remember sitting on the kitchen bench of the farmhouse with my nan, helping her cook and helping her wipe up the dishes (it took easily three times as long with my little hands working beside her, but she was always patient with me), and learning all her stories. As I got older I started to write them down, and I am so grateful I did. Its been eight years this week since Nan passed away, and I am forever thankful for the wonderful fourteen years I shared with her.
I remember the time I woke up to find a turtle meandering around the linoleum floor of our kitchen, and in turn shaking both my parents awake because no one believed me. Later that morning, when my parents had the chance to wake up properly, we climbed into the backseat of the Laser, with the turtle swimming in a flexi-point bucket that I was clutching, before depositing it in the creek. It was raining and I cried, because my efforts to convince Mum and Dad to keep the turtle as a pet had failed.
I remember the time, at three years old, that I marched out of my bed, down the stairs- straight past my parents- and licked the inside of the fridge, successfully sticking my tongue to the inside of the refrigerator. That is perhaps engrained into my memory bank because my father still laughs about it at least once a week, nineteen years later, but I remember. I shrieked out as loud as I could without my tongue, and instead of waiting for the warm water to defrost the ice I was stuck to, ripped myself away and bled through the kitchen.
I can remember when Princess Diana died. I was two years and seven months old, and I can remember asking why everyone on the TV was so sad. I remember the head of my beloved doll flying off midair, and both my brother and I shrieked so loud and so high piyched that our very pregnant mother thought someone was losing a limb.
There are no photos of the Christmas that Santa Forgot, but we all remember. We often joke that that's one of the memories that we will discuss with our eventual therapists (our parents have been saying since we were very young that they were raising us to be independent enough to pay for our own therapy). And I can remember the weekly trips down to the video shops, clutching one of Mum's hands while Nathan held onto the other, Jack trotting in front of us. I would alternate between choosing Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Cinderella, or Beauty and the Beast, before I was gifted my own VHS tapes to watch over and over again. The boys and I would curl up on the lounge under blankets, snacking on our own bowls of popcorn.
I often say I can't remember a life without my best friend by my side- but we didn't meet until kindergarten. I have a world of memories before the age of five, but the ones from when I was older are clearer. Most of them do involve my best friend- we have been inseparable since the age of five. I know my younger brothers wouldn't remember a life without her around- Daniel was almost one when we started school, and Oliver wasn't born until the end of year two.
Miss B is two and a half, and that's where some of my earliest memories are from. I often find myself wondering what things she'll remember from the age she is now, or what her earliest memories will be. She has an incredible memory, and often speaks of things we did months ago.
"Member when I see Emma and give her cuddles and I cry coz Emma go home?"
When she was eighteen months old we went to a Wiggles concert, and Emma came over to our car at the zebra crossing to thank her for coming. She was in shock for a total of a second, before bursting into eighteen month old jabber and inconsolable tears when Emma left.
"We went on the train- wheels on train go wound and wound!- to see Momo and I get a nana wowwy? I so scared of Bruce and den I be so bave and happy".
She was offered an Allens banana lolly when we made it into Darling Harbour for her birthday adventure- she spent the entire day running and calling out in excitement at each new animal, before screeching to a stop at the glass floors, worried that her game of 'the fishies will eat my toes' would come true and she'd fall into the water. After a quick cuddle and reassurance that if I could push the pram over the floor without falling, all eleven kilos of toddler would be okay prancing along in her boots.
"When we see Dowy at movies we be so quiet and shhhhhh and get a chair and popcorn and Dowy juice!"
She fell in love with the Finding Nemo and Finding Dory films right before her second birthday, and saw Finding Dory twice in the cinema. At barely two, she sat through the first hour and twenty minutes without squirming, before moving into my lap for a cuddle for the final ten minutes.
"Yyy-yee we go to the beach... it be so fun. Such a fun day".
The beach is one of her happy places. She has a zest for life like I've never seen, and loves to be outdoors. The beach is one of her favourite places, and we've spent many a summer's day on the white sand and the blue ocean.
"I dus love the water park, I go when I be one! And when I be two and I fink when I be free. You lub it too?"
Wet N Wild Sydney- specifically Nickelodeon Beach- was one of her favourite summer hangouts. At two and a half, she was very much capable of riding the junior waterslides on her own, and I have many photos of her, mouth open in a belly laugh, as she careened down the orange and yellow slides.
"when I be two I hurt my teef and my wips and I cry and Aunty Cole do cutting for you so you div me cuddles".
On her second birthday she took a tumble down the enclosed slide at the restaurant we chose for her birthday lunch. She has a large overbite with very bucky front teeth, and those teeth went straight through her bottom lip. Blood poured from her mouth, soaking into my jumper, as she rejected comfort from her parents and godmother. She snuggled in my lap for the dyration of lunch, and as a result, her godmother cut up my lunch and she shared it with me through sniffles.
There are many memories she has now that are prompted by photos. She doesn't remember the Wiggles concert we attended when she was barely a year old, but she tells people she does because the memory is framed in the lounge room. She remembers places we've been to, people we've met, and things that we've done, but sometimes I have to wonder if she actually remembers, or if she's just learned our stories.
I hope that the memories that are locked up in the back of her mind are all happy ones. I hope she doesn't remember her childhood being full of yelling and shouting at her to get her shoes on, or to eat her dinner, or to pull the plug because its bedtime. I hope that her most vivid memories are not of Mummy and Daddy and her Rhyleigh telling her to put her arms through her seatbelt, or to hurry up and take her shoes off.
I hope that she remembers are bike rides- the ones with her sitting behind me while I rode, and the ones where I chased her around the driveway as she hooned on her balance bike. I hope she remembers the time we taught her to ride her scooter- and despite the two impressive tumbles she took, she never gave up and now rides like a pro, the tassels on her handlebars blowing through the wind. I hope she remembers the laughs and the fun. I hope she remembers the Wiggles concerts, the days at the beach, and the special treats she got when she was a good girl. I hope she remembers the sunny afternoons we spent at the park, and the rainy afternoons we spent jumping in puddles. I hope she remembers the special birthday surprises we organised for her, and the way we let her choose her birthday cakes. I hope she remembers her first ballet lesson, how she danced like the star that she is, and our weekly babycino dates, where she always, without fail, ends up with chocolate powder on her nose.
And I hope more than anything, she has these memories for herself. I want nothing more for her to remember these times, without needing the memories that Mummy and Daddy and Rhyleigh share with her, or seeing the photos.
I hope she remembers.