I had to deal with a financial problem the other day, right in the middle of working on the last edits on Now I’m Found, the novel I hope to publish within a few weeks. Turning my mind to taxes was the last thing on earth I wanted to spend my time on.
I wrote in my journal that day that the problem would take a couple of hours to handle, “And I really don’t want to. I feel like a toddler jumping up and down in a tantrum.”
That got me thinking. Did I throw tantrums as a toddler? I don’t remember doing so. I remember being ornery. I remember being stubborn. I remember deliberately disobeying my parents as a pre-schooler. And I remember getting into physical fights with my siblings.
But I don’t remember lying on the floor and kicking my heels against the ground, nor banging my head against the wall, nor screaming out of control.
I know what tantrums look like. Both my children had tantrums, my daughter more often than my son. I’ve seen many other kids in the throes of a full-blown screaming rage when the world is not treating them as they think it ought and they cannot control their distress.
But I don’t remember having this reaction myself.
As I tried to remember, I wanted to ask someone, “Did I throw tantrums as a kid?”
But there was no one to ask. My parents and grandparents are all gone, as are my aunts and uncles (whom I never spent much time with anyway). I don’t have any older siblings. I’m not even in contact with any close family friends who knew me as a toddler.
I am it when it comes to remembering the details of my childhood. And those details grow fuzzier every year.
I wrote recently about memory, about how our memories shape us and form our self-identity. I suppose the same is true of lack of memory. If I don’t remember my tantrums, and no one else does either, then they didn’t happen. I’m really not sure they ever did, but without memory, it is a certainty that they didn’t.
So I never threw any tantrums.
That’s my story, and I’m sticking with it.
What memories do you wish you recalled? (Or wish you didn’t?)