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Toddler Memory

January 16, 2012

I’ve been thinking about Bean’s memory a lot these past few days.  She’s been learning so much lately, whether its the names of various items around the house (“What’s that/this?” is heard about five thousand times a day round our place), or her lower case letters (upper case are almost mastered). A lot of what she knows is remembered through repetition. So she seems to know most of her books off by heart, but that’s because they are read to her 4-5 times a day. Or we have many discussions about the different names for furniture or people or toys. Just this morning she asked me what curtains were and we repeated the word back and forth a few times. She briefly considered them doors but only because in her world doors go “open and shut” like curtains.  After learning the word she went around the house and found all the curtains, so once again we repeated the word, and now she knows it.

But what I’ve been really interested in what she remembers thats a bit more abstract. Does she remember events in her life without some concrete reminder infront of her? Does she remember something that happened last week? Last month? Or even what we did this morning?

Every night for the last year or so during bath time I go over the days events with Beans. I ask her questions about what we did and where we went to try and see what she remembers. She is getting better, but usually when I first ask the question it is met with no answer, or simply a “huh”, until I lead her a bit more. For example I’ll ask her where we went in the morning. If she doesn’t know I’ll say “Did we go to the park?”. This is usually answered with a “Yeah” and then an expansion on what we did there, like “played with doggie”. So I know she remembers things, but will only vocalize it when prompted. I do think part of her inability to answer may be that she’s a bit distracted by the toys and the water, and also the fact that bath time happens just before bed time so she’s getting sleepy, so she may know what I’m asking, but just might not feel like answering as well.

But what I think is really strange is when out of the blue she’ll remember something we did months ago that we haven’t really discussed since. The month before we left Canada Beans and I went to stay with my parents. Hubby had left for London a month earlier and I had finished work and I really wanted to spend time with my family before moving to the other side of the world. My parents live on an island with many little beaches, and since September was unusually warm, Beans and I ended up going to the beach almost every day. My mother came with us a once or twice as well.  This was about 5 months ago, and since then we’ve taken Beans to a few beaches down south (Brighton, Hastings, Pett, etc.) with no mention of the beaches we went to in Canada. However,  the other day I was looking up warm places to go to for a family vacation and we had the following conversation:

Me: Hey Beans should we go to the beach?

Beans: Yeah! Mommy go get bucket, and shovel,  and knitting, and Grandma’s water, and Grandma, and ball!

Me: Grandma? What about Daddy?

Beans: Daddy’s at work.

I love this. I love that she remembers going to the beach with my mother, especially now that we live so far away. I love that she remembers that my mother brought her knitting and her water bottle. And I really love that Beans thinks knitting is a necessary item to bring for an afternoon on the beach. I just find it so strange that she remembers one afternoon, but has trouble remembering what we had for supper an hour after she’s eaten it.

Toddlers are strange.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Dom Camus permalink
    January 16, 2012 5:19 pm

    Fascinating stuff!

    My guess would be that she does remember what was for supper but doesn’t feel a need to relate it. Toddler brains are incredibly powerful, we just don’t always realise it because so much of what goes on stays inside.

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