The Creation of Core Memories

He is ready but refused the paper undies
Jax had his tonsils and adenoids out five days ago. We’ve been around the traps a few times with kiddy operations, but it seems it’s not something you ever get used to. It rips your heart out and the sweat stress stinks! We’ve been very lucky though, as we have two, strong, healthy boys, so definitely nothing to complain about. They recover fast.

As Jax was waiting to go into surgery, Steve and I were sharing our tonsil memories to distract him (and us) from what was coming. We were also seven at the time, and I remember the experience as clear as day. I remember where my hospital bed was in the kids’ ward, the feeling of love and concern from my parents, the gift I got for being a brave girl, and even the jelly I got to eat. Steve also had very strong memories – also good.

Not bad for almost 40 years after the fact.

At that moment it occurred to me how important this experience could be for our little guy – aka an Inside Out ‘core memory’ moment. Something he could potentially remember much later in life! Shite, there’s some responsibility! Steve we better make this awesome.

So we did our best. Lots of love and concern. Lots of attention and cuddles. But lots of giggles and silliness too. He didn’t come out of the operation with a sense of humour though – that took a couple of days to kick back in. We kept the whole experience light though. How else do you get through these things?

Family selfie pre-op
With all that said, if anything is going to lock this in as a core memory, I think it is pain. Jax does not want to go back to hospital. All romance and nonchalance about hospitals is over. He now knows he can go into hospital and wake up with a VERY big ouchie in his throat. Definitely a ‘Not Happy Jan’ moment.

But he’s come through it awesomely and as I write this, he’s out having a Nerf war with the kids in our condo. He’ll be fine to start his new school year tomorrow.

However pain isn’t the only reason for a core memory. Disgust is too. I was three when mum dished up lambs fry. I don’t know why, but she constantly cooked revolting food and the four of us constantly refused to eat it. There was a lot of fighting and tears around our dinner table that’s for sure. But of all the foods she cooked, lambs fry was the worst. Revolting stuff.

This morning. He's doing great
Anyway, this evening I remember sitting at the table refusing to eat it. I got in so much trouble but stubbornness and me were already friends. No way was I putting that foul shit in my mouth. They eventually gave up, but the next day, it was served up as lunch at my pre-school. The staff were instructed that I had to eat it. I didn’t.

They kept going though and at the end of the school day, while all of the other kids were playing just outside the window, I sat with that foul concoction in front of me, still refusing to eat it. I remember my dad came to pick me up that day, and the look of compassion on his face is deeply etched in my memory. I can only imagine how retched tiny-little-me looked, sitting in the window, still refusing to eat it.

I won that battle, and I reckon those sorts of wins are important for one’s development. It’s also impacted how I parent today.

I will never force the boys to eat anything. Encourage, not force. I want them to find their love for the food they eat – whether it’s now or later – because it’s more important that none of their core memories are tied to an unpleasant food moment. I’ve got too many of them and am doing my darndest to make sure my boys don’t. I know they’ll be braver than I when it comes to food.

Core memories are fascinating. Care to share one of yours with me?

Yours, without the bollocks
Andrea


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