Here’s a picture of me at age three, with two friends. The picture was taken in my kindergarten in the fall of 1993.
The girl I am holding hands with is named Hilde, and I have been told that we were inseparable. I’ll just have to take my parents word on this, because almost 27 years later I can’t remember her at all.
Here’s another photo of me and Hilde, approximately 1.5 years later.
It seems strange to me that I could forget someone who was so important to me for years. But I was really young, and I can barely remember anything from when I was under five anyway.
This phenomena is called childhood amnesia, and is completely normal. To quote Wikipedia: “Psychologists have debated the age of adults’ earliest memories. To date, estimates have ranged from 2 to 6–8 years of age.”
The earliest memory that I can place on a timeline is my scary sledding incident when I was almost three years old. To quote Wikipedia again: “Some research shows that the offset of childhood amnesia (earliest age of recall) is 2 years of age for hospitalization and sibling birth.” While the sledding incident was not a hospitalization, it was probably equally scary and memorable for a 2-year-old.
Now, it is possible to remember things from before your two years old. It’s also likely that some people have been told about something that happened to them when they were a toddler. And then they think they remembered the event, when they are actually remembering the story they were told.
So here’s an interesting question for you to ponder: What is your earliest memory?