Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Childhood and Memory

In a new book I'm reviewing--a memoir--I read the following this morning: "We remember our childhood not as a smooth timeline but a series of shocks."

I don't think I agree--at least with the second half of this.  I certainly don't remember my own childhood as a timeline (hell, I don't remember this week as a timeline!), but I can't say that my lingering childhood memories are of shocks, not at all.  Certainly, there were some--my father being whisked to the hospital late one Oklahoma night in the mid-1950s (kidney stones), being yanked from Enid, Oklahoma, to Amarillo, Texas, during the Korean War (I was just seven; Dad had been called back to active duty in the Air Force); getting thrown out at home in an Enid little league game by, oh, about twenty feet because I so desperately wanted to get an inside-the-park homer (I cried all the way back to the bench; my coach was alarmed).

But I have far more memories of wonderful experiences--hardly "shocks" in any common use of the term.  Visits to family in Oregon, riding bikes in Enid, being elected class president in fourth grade (I was later removed from office for--honest to God--going down the up staircase; talk about tears!), eating holiday dinners with my grandparents, playing with our dog (Sooner, whom some Evil Ass in Hiram hit with a car, then drove off; Sooner was still alive; Evil Ass could have helped; but, being an Evil Ass, he drove on and on and on and, I hope, he hit a tree at 90, flew through the windshield, landed on a lawn, where a dog ate his face and evil ass), playing in the neighborhood, falling in love in first grade (yes, you got it: FIRST GRADE).

Do we look at our own lives as human templates?


  1. Human templates. I like that. That's an interesting question.

    I think I see things as shocks now, but I don't remember being shocked by much at all as a kid. I was too spaced out, and I don't think I had a template yet--on which to evaluate the situations. Whatever happened, good or bad, I just kind of took it in. Everything from the peculiar aspects, like the bomb shelter Dad built and then told us that we would stay down there while everyone else was incinerated . . . to the endless hours of fun, building hay forts and working with the animals on the farm . . . . to the theoretically alarming, like the operations, sprained ankles, and illnesses, which won me hours of my mother reading to me, to the fights between my parents -- all kind of blurred together as a definition of "life," whatever that means. I am so much more prone to shock now.

  2. No, definitely not a timeline. A movie, yes. One that is at times incredibly boring or, extremely funny. And is also filled with the challenges of raising small children, and sadness that my son has special needs, and a hunt for finding joy in the day to day stuff.