Nearly everyone has what psychologists term “flash bulb memories.” These are the extraordinary, stand-out memories from your childhood (or any other stage of life). They can be memorable for being positive or negative, but either way, they become fixtures because of being exceptional. These memories tend to be rich in detail and emotion.
But most of childhood is not exceptional, it is routine and consistent and predictable, and thankfully so. Whether it’s a bedtime ritual of reading books, or vacationing at the same lake every summer, experiences that are repeated will build strong memories. Where the details of memory may fail is in differentiating one similar experience from another. So if your family makes a commitment to have family dinners on a regular basis, your children will likely remember this as a foundation of their childhood, but have a hard time recalling specifics from one dinner or the other.
Flash bulb memories are different because they tend to be once in a lifetime events. Many of these events are shared as a collective culture. Depending on where in the country you live, the Solar Eclipse of 2017 will be one of these flashbulb memories, where you will always remember where you were and what you were doing. For children old enough to take part in the anticipation and conversation leading up to it, the viewing of the eclipse itself, and the science lessons to explain what they were seeing, it is likely they will forever remember this event. Sometimes, influential events like this shape a child’s fascination in science or even career interests.
Whether you viewed the eclipse or not, as you return to the normalcy of your day-to-day, where the sun shines and everyone goes about their routine, remember that it is the ordinary that builds a childhood. It is the steady repetition that creates their world. It’s the hugs to say “hello” or the laughter over family games. It’s the patience as a child learns how to tie his shoes that becomes the same patience you show when he learns how to drive. Children remember most of all how they felt, because many of the other details get blurred. But feeling safe and loved, that will be more memorable and influential than any eclipse.
I'm a mom of four children, a wife, and a Licensed Professional Counselor. My parenting life helps me be a better counselor, and my professional experience helps me be a better mom. Both allow me to be creative, to learn and grow, to make mistakes, and to rarely sleep. I love the beach and gardening, reading if I can stay awake, running (which these days is after my kids and not much else), and using humor through it all!
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