What do you remember as a child?
I don’t think it’s possible for children to remember the most important times they had growing up or the happiest or even the saddest memories. Perhaps that’s just me. I feel like my childhood memories are like a blanket with holes in it. Photos and stories told to me by adults which document the early start to my life, that’s the blanket. The safe, reliable, easy to relax with stories and memories. Birthday cakes, visiting Santa, various witch costumes for Halloween and happy days out with lost since lost childhood friends.
The holes in the blanket appear when I struggle to think back to what I personally remember.
Let me just also state that I didn’t have a horrible childhood, not by any stretch of the imagination.
I remember things differently to how the photos look though. My very first memory, I couldn’t be more than four years old was of my father trying to teach me how to read and write in his language, Japanese. I remember that I could understand the English letters but I couldn’t grasp what he was trying to explain to me. I remember his voice getting louder and louder, eventually he snapped and threw everything off the kitchen table and threw the book at me, as I ran under the stairs for cover. I didn’t understand what was wrong or how it had switched so quickly from a father and daughter bonding to getting hit in the face with a book.
It didn’t make sense.
I was a bright kid, I could tie my own shoe laces when I was three, I could read and write before I started school. I would finish the maths text books set out for the year within the month of September. I was an over achiever but I never tried to learn Japanese after that. I never felt that anything I done was going to be sufficient.
My father was raised in a different time and place but he’s still very much stuck in his ways. I always think back to my childhood with him, growing up and every single memory of him is bad.
There’s photos of him carrying me as a baby, me sleeping on his chest as my mother took the photos… I can’t remember these times but if I could, I think I’d be a very different person today.
Why is it that I can only remember the bad when there’s evidence of the happy?
Every memory I have of him seems to be me disappointing him. It made me give up eventually.
He’s still of the opinion that women do not wear make up, paint their nails, dye their hair and other such archaic ideas.
When I was sixteen, I got my first tattoo, a huge taboo in the Japanese culture and I continue getting them to disappoint him over and over again. I’m not stupid, I know it was so I could feel like I was in control, I was making the decision to disappoint him. I didn’t know it at the time but I’ve come to learn, that’s probably why I done it.
Now I’m nearly covered in them, just a few spaces on my legs and stomach left to cover, yet I still think back to those childhood memories and how it could all have been so different…