The first stage (the developmental years) intrigues me because I wonder how much I REALLY remember. My parents and grandparents were great about repeating stories of all the cute and funny things I did as a kid. As a result I have pictures in my head of where events took place, but I wonder if the memories are mine or if I created them.
How accurate are the memories of babyhood? If those memories can be corroborated by people who were there, most notably our parents, then the memories are quite possibly real memories if presented independently of stories we have heard previously. Most likely though we have at sometime in the past heard the stories and don't realize it.
Memories might be also confirmed by finding documentation that back up those memories. Photos or other recorded mediums that we discover later in life could be a good source. Old newspaper clippings or even historical documentaries that we view may revive memories that we have. Comparing when something happened to the memory we have can also be helpful.
I have many distinct memories that go back to when I was three years old and hazy recollections that may go back to my second year of life. I have dated these according to places I lived as a child, cars that my parents owned, and specific events that happened.
For example, I distinctly remember my sister and I playing in an old Hudson automobile. My parents got rid of that car prior to 1955--I turned four years old in January of 1955. I can recall going to Michigan for my aunt's funeral in 1955. I have several memories of a carnival tour my parents worked with their juggling act in 1955. The memories are not contiguous as a historical progression of time, but rather highlighted moments that stand out in my mind. As a child we have little concept of the flow of time so it makes sense that I cannot put the early memories the context of a linear progression of time. Even in later life this is sometimes the case.
There are many things that played a big role in shaping me to be who I am now. One that stands out was that my mother used to say, "You have a memory like an elephant." I liked hearing my mother say this and I believe this played a big role in reinforcing my ability to remember things. Later, this ability became a big help to me in school. Even now, though my memory isn't always the best, I do tend to remember a lot of details about certain things.
Also the constant exposure to show business instilled me with a desire to be in the entertainment business and led me to be interested in all things cultural. This interest influenced my play time in childhood and the types of jobs I pursued in adulthood. My dream aspirations in life as well as my dreams of sleep are often related to the entertainment profession.
Clearly, the words my parents reinforced me with and the things that impressed me in childhood made me who I am. Most of my memories seem to be related to these life-shaping influences. In a way, I am much the same now as I was when I was four years old. The biggest difference between then and now is that I know and remember more.
What do you remember from early childhood? Do you see any connection to what you became as an adult to how you were influenced as a baby? What do you see as being your biggest influences in your earliest stages of development? Can you remember or have you ever known anyone who remembers actually experiencing their own birth?