I walked outside to let the dog out this morning, and the air felt like Colorado. At first I wasn’t sure. Maybe it was the way the snow had frozen over with a thin layer of ice on top and then gave way to soft powder when I stepped on it. Maybe it was the way the morning sun was hitting the icy trees just so. - But I'm pretty sure it was because of the way the cold air slipped up the sleeves of my shirt and spun soft frost circles in my lungs. And I instantly looked around for mountains. I find that crazy. I only spent 2 years of my life in Colorado, and yet in one instant my senses can transport me back there.
I found myself wondering if children have the same moments. Of course, reliable long term memories aren’t thought to be formed before the age of three. I reassure myself of this everytime I feel as Joey/Guy/Elena and I have a rough day. So maybe not long term… but what about short term? What about feelings and senses? Guy certainly remembers the scent of his blankie. If I try to convince him to switch to a near identical one so I can wash his beloved ‘night night’ he remembers and knows it is not the same. And one time, ONE TIME, I gave Joey and Guy a cookie for putting on their coats, (I know, I know, don’t bribe kids. Much less with food. Much less with cookies…) – ONE TIME I did, and every single time we put on coats now they ask for a cookie. Just fantastic when they did that in front of the pediatrician.
I wonder if Joey has (unreliable) memories of the RV trip that we took across the country when he was, well, 2 weeks to one year old? Does the sound of our dishwasher remind him of the Pacific Ocean? Does the taste of salsa spark a remnant of a memory of the farmer’s market in Las Cruces? I wonder if when I rock him (now a real boy) if he remembers when his head (then a baby) fit snuggly in the space between my ear and the hollow of my shoulder- when I rocked him in the silence of the canyons in New Mexico. Does the sight of a school bus- reminding him of an RV make him nervous? Does the changing of the leaves make him antsy for an adventure- just like his father?
I have no idea. I’m sure some psychologist does- but I think I’d like to leave it as more of a mystery. Why the air feels like Colorado, and if children ‘feel remember’ what we think that they might not.