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My Earliest Memory #MFRWauthor

As my former therapist can attest, asking me what my earliest memory is would be a waste of effort. My childhood memories are surprisingly sparse.

I think I had a normal childhood — if your idea of a normal childhood includes starting school not knowing the language — but I can’t recollect much of it. My grandparents factored heavily in my life. We lived with them in Toronto, Ontario until I was five. Then we moved to a house in North York, Ontario.

Since my grandparents spoke little English (their native tongue was Hungarian), and both my parents spoke Hungarian, that’s the language I learned. I must have felt like a stranger in a strange land when I went off to kindergarten.

Perhaps that’s why my stories tend to explore memories and how they form our personalities. In particular, I enjoy exploring memory and perception. The idea that memories can be false fascinates me.

When I was in grade ten, the teacher did an interesting exercise with the class. The teacher sent three students out of the room, and while they were gone, she drew two lines on the board. She then told the rest of the class to lie about which line was the longest. It was an exercise in gaslighting.

Interestingly, I can’t recall if the three unwitting students stood their ground or if they caved and agreed with the rest of the class. No one in the rest of the class defied the teacher’s order and told the students what was happening to them. At the end, of course, they were told the truth, but it was the teacher who filled them in.

Even so, the exercise had an impact on me and fueled my interest in psychology.

For more posts from other writers on this subject, check out the MFRW 52-Week Challenge post for week 2.

6 Responses

  1. LOL….my tenth grade teacher did something similar; she set up a scenario where one student decided to be argumentative with either the principal or vice-principal (who was also in on it), then after the student was forcibly ejected from the classroom, the other students were told to write their testimonies about what had just taken place. It was eerie to see how perceptions could be so different, and how eye-witness testimonies aren’t always accurate!

    I incorporated that incident into one of my short stories that was published last year.

  2. For many people, my dad included, “normal” included not learning English until he started school. You’ve learned it well enough to write in your second language. Dad, well, he kind butchered English, especially pronunciation.

    • Thanks for sharing, Ed. I would consider English my first language now. I speak haltingly in Hungarian and read it slowly. Once I learned English, I spoke that at home. My parents understood it, so they’d speak to me in Hungarian, but I’d reply in English. My mother said she learned English from watching television, particularly “I Love Lucy.” She’s probably not the only foreigner to learn the language that way.

  3. I love that GIF- it’s perfect for me! lol

  4. Thanks for sharing!

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