Monday, 16 February 2009

What Are Your Earliest Memories?

My earliest memory is of waking in my cot, in the middle of the night and seeing snakes crawling all over the covers. I seem to remember that my sleep was disturbed more than once, in this way. Whenever I was ill, as a child, I often became delirious, if I had a high temperature, so I think that, I either saw snakes every time I suffered from delirium, or as a result of a recurring nightmare. Apparently, I slept in a cot until I was about 2 years old, so it isn't necessarily such an early memory as you might think!

My next memory is of sitting up in my pram, looking out, as my mother pushed me to the shops. Again, it isn't a particularly early memory, because I remember my mother telling me, on the day concerned, that it was raining much too hard for me to go into town in my pushchair, so I would have to go in my old pram. I was too big for the pram, of course, so I had to sit up, with the hood raised, because of the rain. Once again, I think that I was about 2 years old.

My next memories date back to when I started school, aged 4. I can vaguely remember my first day at school, feeling sick with anxiety when my mother went home, leaving me in the company of several other rising 5s, in a strange, but bright classroom, furnished with infant-sized desks and chairs. I was an only child and had had very little contact with other children, except for my cousins. I didn't take to school at all, at first and had to be dragged there, crying, a couple of times, during those first few days.

After a short while, I accepted the fact that I had to go to school and didn't mind quite as much. I particularly enjoyed learning to read and learning how to do simple sums. I always looked forward to Wednesdays, because Wednesday afternoons were known as 'choosing' afternoons and we were allowed to play with whatever toys we wished.

Another thing I enjoyed at school was learning how to use money. I don't know whether it was anything to do with the fact that the Bournville factory was situated just a few miles away from us, but we played shops with a wonderful selection of dummy Cadburys chocolate bars, which I found totally fascinating.

I made a few friends, spending most of my playtimes with the same group of girls, whose full names I can still recall, but I chose not to join in on the occasions when they played kiss chase with the boys, or went down to the end of the playground furthest away from the classrooms, so that they could play showing their knickers to the boys. I didn't start playing those sort of games until I was much older.

I did have a boyfriend, though, in those early days. We would walk in the playground, holding hands, at playtimes and we told our parents that we intended to marry each other, when we were older. The gentleman in question recently moved into a house very close to my mother, in the Midlands, with his wife and daughter, but I haven't seen him for a number of years. I sometimes wonder whether he remembers our plans from over 50 years ago!

During my last year, at infant school, when I was 7 years old, my class was taught by the headmistress. She was a dreadful woman - a proverbial spinster - tall, thin, bony and miserable, always dressed in black, wearing flat shoes and thick black stockings. When we painted pictures, she would run round, looking over our shoulders and shrieking 'More water! More water!' if the sky was too blue, or 'More blue! More blue!' if the sky was too pale.

During this last year, we were taught how to knit, if we didn't know already and then spent hours knitting dishcloths, with some sort of yarn, which closely resembled string. I have a vague idea that the boys went off to do something different, whilst the girls did this, but I'm not sure. It was very humiliating, when any one of us dropped a stitch, because we had to take our knitting to the headmistress, at the front of the class, who would generally unravel almost all of our hard work, down to the last 3 or 4 rows. She would then put the stitches back on the needles and thrust our depleted masterpiece back into our disappointed little hands, in a very disapproving and unsympathetic manner.

When we had PE (Physical Education), we had to strip down to our navy blue knickers and the headmistress would take the lesson in the playground, at the front of the school. I have no recollection of the boys' attire, at this time, but, the playground must have been a paedophiles' paradise, on those days, because the school was situated on a busy road, with plenty of traffic and people passing by.

After 3 years of attending infant school, I moved on to junior school, which was further to walk, being a 20 minute journey away from home, as opposed to 10. A few of the children, from my class, went with me to the same school, but the majority of them, I never saw again.

My old infant school was knocked down, many years ago and the whole area has since been totally rebuilt, leaving me unable to point to any place, in particular and say 'That is where my old school stood' because even the road it stood upon no longer exists. I can see the school in my mind's eye, as if it were yesterday. I tend to picture it, with my class standing in the playground in front, having a PE lesson, wearing nothing but our navy blue knickers!

How about you? What are your earliest memories?

28 comments:

Working mum said...

I remember the night my brother was born (in the room next to mine). It was very exciting. I'd been dying for him to arrive and my dad woke me up in the middle of the night to go into their room and see him. I think I was the fourth person to hold him (midwife, mum, dad and me).

My mum says I sometimes mention things that were before he was born, but I don't have any real recollection of being without him.

I often tell him I've had to put up with him all my life!!

Maggie May said...

I remember my mum left me in a pram outside a butchers shop where there was a very long queue. I think I was about 2 years old. I was bored and was jogging the pram back and forth & it suddenly tipped over and my mum had to lose her place in the queue and come and rescue me. She was not pleased. The butchers shop was green and the pram was maroon & cream!

The Finely Tuned Woman said...

One of my earliest memories is of me sitting on my tricycle with an orange ribbon on my sweater on the sidewalk outside out house. It was the queen's birthday and everywhere the flags were out waving in the wind. I was wearing white socks and sandals.

Mud in the City said...

I remember crawling to the glass sliding doors in our sitting room and then getting my fingers trapped in them. I was under 2 at the time I think.

Strangely, I can remember everything about my friends at primary school. But not what I had for supper last night.

sallymandy said...

I remember being in a crib in my pink bedroom in our family's house, which happens to be about six blocks from where I live now, though I've lived many other places and have now moved back. My mom was playing a song by the Kingston Trio on the stereo. I think it was "The Lion Sleeps Tonight."

Fun post!

Strawberry Jam Anne said...

I don't have a really early memory - but I do remember being at school. One very clear memory was being put into a different class and having to do "joined up writing". It looked like hieroglyphs to me as I struggled on with it. I also remember my new teacher reading to us - one particular story was "Horrible Harriet". Don't remember much about the story just the title! My teacher's name was Miss Winterbotham! A x

Strawberry Jam Anne said...

Mean Mom - should have said earlier - loved reading about your memories and the knitting brought it all back! A x

auntiegwen said...

I had a little raincoat and rainhat that were bright yellow and the pattern was buttercups, I remember them, I was about 2. I remember my dad getting me dressed (a very unusual occurance) and he forgot to put pants on me, I was told off for being fidgety, red woolly tights have that effect on an unprotected bottom ! I also remember my mums turquoise bri nylon with white lace nightie which I thought made her look like a film star, so glamorous.

Why are my memories all about clothes ? Do I need help ?

Letty - A Little Girl With A Curl said...

well, to be honest, after reading this post (started it last night but had to shut computer down as Husband is beginning to think I have a Toy Boy on line I am on computer so much! ;0) ).........

after re-reading it this morning after exhausting shopping trip, I decided you and I must have been separated at birth or somesuch, for your tale is very similar to mine. I have such similar memories.

Too many to post on here, so if you don't mind, later on today, I may do a post on my blog with regard the same subject.

Only child me, as well!!

More soon when I have recovered from the hell which is Sainsburys.

in half term........aaaaaargh!

Letty ;0)

Mean Mom said...

Working mum - What a lovely memory. How old were you, then? Maybe 2 or 3?


Maggie - Have you always been a bit of handful? I have my suspicions about you! ;0)


The Finely Tuned Woman - I wonder if that was a special birthday for the Queen, then? How old were you, do you know?


Mud - Ooh! You certainly would remember that! How painful and scary!


Sallymandy - That does sound like an early memory. I remember that song, too and the mention of it made me shiver! Nothing nasty - just nostalgia! I'm suffering from it, just lately.


Strawberry - Oh, the knitting. Groan! We weren't the only class to suffer, then? I don't know what my mother did with my dishcloths, but I can guess!

My husband doesn't seem to have any really early memories, either. I can remember the feeling of being put into a different class, too. Not very pleasant!


auntiegwen - Your little outfit sounds so sweet! Ooh, I bet those red tights were itchy!

I remember some of the clothes my mother wore, too. I thought that they were great and wanted to wear the same sort of thing.

No. LOL! I don't think that you need help. I think that it's just a girly thing!


Letty - How interesting, that we have the same memories! I'll look forward to reading your post, then!

Jennysmith said...

What a great deal of memories you have brought back to me, MMM. Thats funny, yes, i remember my cot completely collapsing on me and screaming . And i remember parents rushing into the room. Knowing them the cot was cheap or badly made. God knows how old i was.

Its amazing how far back you can go.

And certainly remember the first day of school. I was too scared to touch any toys. Don't know why, everyone else was touching them.

Great blog xxxx

Mean Mom said...

Jen - Ooh, yes, that is something that you would remember!

Yes, LOL! I can remember being too scared to move from my desk on my first day at school! I've never really grown out of hanging back!

Suburbia said...

That has brought back loads of memories for me, thank you! I always tell my children I can't remember much from my childhood, but it only takes a few things to jog my grey matter and it all comes flooding back!

I loved school (I was an only child so it was the social side of school which attracted me!)and can remember infants and juniors vividly. I remember, at infants school, after lunch time, we came into the class room and laid our heads on our arms and listened to a story. It was very comforting. These days it would have to be far more taxing!

Mean Mom said...

Suburbia - Yes, I remember in junior school, we had to have a little rest, at some time, and rest our heads on our arms, on the desk and close our eyes for a few minutes. Too much is demanded of children, nowadays. That would never happen today.

Mother Mayhem said...

Being in gym class and the teacher having to call my mom because I wouldn't "go over" in a game of Red Rover without having permission first. LOL

Midlife, menopause, mistakes and random stuff... said...

I tried to "help" my brother get down from a so we wouldn't get caught and he broke his collar bone! I'm not exactly sure why I remember that or what came before it, lol......
Fantastic blog....I am going to have to follow :)

Steady On
Reggie Girl

Taz said...

Something is telling me that maybe you like my cupcake fabric? :D

As for my earliest memories I struggle to remember what I had for breakfast.

Mean Mom said...

Mother Mayhem - LOL! Your teacher was obviously more understanding than any of mine in junior school!


Midlife, menopause etc - Ooh! Painful! I'm not surprised that you still remember that occasion!

Thanks! I'll be over to visit you a bit later on.


Taz - Ooh! That cupcake fabric! Just the mention of it gives me goosebumps!

What? No memories? You'd better start a diary! ;0) At 55, I am seriously upset when I look back at my life and realise that I actually remember very little. What have I been doing all these years?

Rose said...

I sometimes think how amazing it is that we survived childhood at all. Your infant school sounds rather unpleasant.

My earliest memory is when I was three and my brother was born. I was so excited, but then disappointed when I discovered he couldn't play with me right away.

Your memory of snakes on your cot reminds me of my youngest daughter--she had what are now called night terrors, which maybe what you had. It was frightening to us because she would wake in the middle of the night without seeming to recognize anyone and was usually inconsolable.

Mean Mom said...

Rose - Yes, the school was stuck in the Victorian times, I think, probably because of the headmistress. I had even more unpleasant teachers in my junior school. They were bullies and we were often humiliated when we hadn't actually done anything wrong.

My eldest son also had night terrors. He would 'wake' in the middle of the night and keep calling for me, but he couldn't see me, even though I was standing right by him. Very unnerving!

aims said...

I started school when I was 4 as well. I remember kindergarten as it is called here with nap time that I hated (I still do).

Then in Grade 1 our teachers name was Miss Fish. I remember very little about that year but I can picture myself sitting in that classroom as well.

I also remember lots about our house back then. It was scary - haunted in fact - and huge.

The school and the house still stand - but it is all on the other side of the country so I rarely get to see it now.

(Very) Lost in France said...

My earliest memory was of my pushalong lion called Clarence. I pushed him through the french windows when they were closed! I remember my first day at school clearly sitting next to my friend Helen who was sobbing her heart out so I thought that was obviously the thing to do and joined in. VLiF

Working mum said...

I was three and a half; it was a momentous night in my life and yes, a lovely memory.

Mean Mom said...

aims - I'm quite partial to a little nap, nowadays, if I get the chance!

I'm so glad that I never lived in a haunted house. I would never have slept at all!


(Very) Lost - LOL! What a memory! I hope that you weren't hurt.

Yes, I somehow feel that I probably cried on my first day, too, but I can't remember.


Working Mum - Thanks for coming back. I was wondering about that.

Robin said...

Mean Mom, are knickers the same as underwear in the US? It is hard to imagine having young girls run outside in their panties.

My first memory is me running away from home on my tricycle. I went back home after a few houses.

MarmiteToasty said...

I remember running away from home when I was about 3 and me brother was 5, on his bike and it raining and us hiding under a parked car, and the police taking us home.... and then getting the living daylights beaten out of me LOL....

So much of your post I can relate to.... I remember the navy blue PE knickers, I do have no clue as to what the boys wore.... I know in seniors the boys went off to do woodwork and metal work and us girls had to do cooking and sewing :)....

My Infant and junior school still stands and its a standing joke every Tuesday as we pass it on the way to Trampoline club... and now before we even get to the road, me lad and his matie (whom I take to club) say..... 'THATS ME OLD SCHOOL ' lol..... our senior school is no long and was pulled down and is now a huge housing estate....

x

Mean Mom said...

Robin - Yes, panties. It was all we wore for PE. I can hardly believe it now, but it's true. I don't know what the fabric was, but it was soft and thick. I suppose it must have been some sort of cotton. There wasn't much else around in those days.

It doesn't surprise me, somehow, that you didn't get very far when you ran away from home!


MarmiteToasty - Your running away from home experience must have been frightening at the time.

Yes, I enjoyed sewing and cookery, but I'm not much good at cooking. Our class had to do woodwork, for a term, because of a cock up. It was great. I made a lopsided letter rack.

My junior school is still standing, but it's been years since I saw it. I think that I would like to go and look round, but would I? Perhaps I had too many humiliating experiences, there. Some of the teachers were harsh.

My senior school was a good one and is now a sixth form college. At least I had one good school!

Your senior school was knocked down! That's unusual. Was a new one built?

The bad army wife said...

My earliest memory is living in a high rise flat with my mum, who was a single mum at the time. We were watching duran duran on the radio rentals tv in our living room, then it broke half way through my simon le bon fix!!!!We used to always have to call the tv man out to fix the tv and put 50p in every time to top credit up and watch more tv!!!
If only then my poor struggling mum had have known the fantastic man she would meet and the great life they would have now, with cruises around the med and the like!