This thought has crept to the surface recently, riding within the waves of discussion on whether or not to celebrate Rory’s first birthday and have a big party. It has been a surreal year of firsts for both him and us, many moments that Marilyn and I will never forget as new parents, and the notion of celebrating his first birthday party was another timely decision to make.
Before realising the complexity of organising anything involving little children, I was certainly all for hosting a party at the local park. However, now that I know the logistical nightmare and possible stress of just leaving the house for groceries these days, I have erred on the side of – there’s no need for a party because what will Rory remember of it anyway?
Rory has learnt many new things and remembered to keep doing them, such as crawling, standing up; walking with the aid of anything to hang onto, making raspberry noises (thanks grandparents); and gleefully putting lids on his containers. His daily arsenal is growing with each sleep. However, from all this activity, I gather no visual aspect of these experiences will be stored afterwards in his memory bank. Does anyone have a true recollection of their first year? Except for (hopefully), a sound platform of love and confidence for them to build memories upon.
Marilyn and I, did what I suspect many first time parents do, and deliberated for some time on whether to have a first birthday party for Rory. As the day got closer, it started to feel like it would be more a day for us than him. I’m sure he’d enjoy it (he loves to party just like his dad), but then like the rest of his days so far, they will become a blank space in his memory bank, or at best, filed away somewhere in deep storage, its location lost over time.
My first memory, which I confirmed just recently with my Mum, was when I was two. I had made my way up onto the dark wooden dining room table, and proceeded to use the vase that occupied its centre as my first writing instrument. This was to be my first memorable mark in the world, my first art piece, the first thing I did that made an impression, if only on me and the dining room table.
I remember the scene close up, and strangely enough from an overhead view, which has probably been a later addition, a bit of mental editing. The main visual sensation I get from recalling the incident, is the dark wood becoming lighter with each grind of the heavy vase. I don’t remember getting up. I don’t remember getting caught. I don’t remember getting into trouble…but I do remember the act – and it is a fond memory. The closest memory after that was when a Rhino relieved itself in front of me at a zoo. As the urine cascaded over the concrete enclosure, gushing like a fire hose, I was filled with awe at the amount that flowed everywhere. Were these really the only two memorable moments of my first few years of life? I’ve clicked on search and it seems to be the case – art and a big piss are the earliest most noteworthy moments of my childhood (some would claim they are both one and the same).
Anyway, back to my point of not having a first birthday party, an idea that was helped along with a close friend’s own experience, his advice being, “You’d be crazy to, you’ll have plenty of stress with future parties, at least wait until he can enjoy it.”
I do wonder, does the fact that Rory won’t remember it, take away from his enjoyment of it?
As I’ve said, I enjoy a party, and have had some great nights out that would surely fit into the category of enjoyment over memory. The memories of such nights would have surely been lost if they had not been shared amongst friends the next day, and maybe this is why we don’t have such memories early on – we have no way of sharing them the next day. Early re-enforcement certainly works when we want to remember something, anyone that has studied can attest to that. It would be interesting to ask a three year old to see what his/her first memory is, would it be from a week, a month, or even a year ago?
For our celebration, we finally decided to take him to Lone Pine Sanctuary, with only close family attending, as it was where I was taken for my first birthday all those years ago. I thought I would start a nice tradition, and maybe he will do the same with his first born. I don’t think there are any Rhino’s at this park, but who knows, maybe he will experience a koala with a really full bladder. Once we are able to communicate and share past experiences, I’ll ask him, just in case I missed it; as it will be great to share such a memory with him one day. Until then I’m happy to wait and enjoy each and every moment, and soon enough I’ll be able to tell him all about it when he can truly listen, and then I can reminisce and enjoy it all again.