Some counseling theories are based on exploring “early recollections” of clients in an attempt to relate them to current attitudes, values, fears, feelings, or behaviors. When asked about earliest memories in a recent class on counseling theories, I recounted these:
1.) As a very young child, perhaps 3, I remember standing on the porch of our small wooden house on a dirt road behind a feed mill and watching a man (whom I always believed was one of my uncles) throw a snake onto a fence. I remember something being said about a snake not dying until sunset. My Mother had filled in other parts of that memory for me. It seems I had been playing on the front porch, with her just inside the house on the other side of a screen door. I came to the door complaining about a “bug” that was going to get me. She had shooed me away from the door several times, then finally came out to see what I was complaining about, only to find a rattlesnake curled up on the bottom step.
2.) I also remember seeing a new baby brother lying on my parents’ bed in that same house. It could have been either of my younger brothers- one is 26 months younger than me; the other is 3 years and 9 months younger than me. My impression is that it was the second brother. My emotions at seeing this little intruder taking my Mommy’s time wasn’t any too positive at that moment, as I recall. Years later what would distress me about my brothers wasn’t the time with Mother that they took, but their apparent greater time spent with Daddy. It took me some time to work through my sibling jealousy and sense of slight over that!
3.) From that time frame, I also remember that the older of the two boys attempted to climb the drawers of a chest, causing it to tip and breaking a small china tea set of my Mother’s that sat on top. I felt that loss, I think, more perhaps than she did. She was probably so grateful that her toddler hadn’t been hurt in the process that the broken tea set seemed small by comparison.
4.) There are a few memories from the next home in which we lived, a three room duplex in a large older house that had been converted for that purpose. I recall happy days there playing with an older girl who lived next door- Gail Mackey. I also remember being stung on the cheek by a bee while running around outside and I remember falling off of a bicycle onto loose gravel and getting a very nasty gravel burn on my thigh. I also remember that we had a railroad track that rain across the road very near our house, perhaps only 50 yards or so. I recall my Mother’s panic in realizing that the two boys, probably 2 and 3 at the time, had wandered down there and were near the track. I can vividly remember the layout of the house and the white lace curtains on the windows in the front room that served as living room and my parents’ bedroom.
5.) My next home, which we moved into just before I started school, was a new brick home built by my parents. It had lovely hardwood floors and pine paneling in the boys’ room, which they promptly scribbled with color crayons. I remember my Mother’s dismay over that and her time spent cleaning it off. I remember my first day of school, sitting on the edge of my bed as Mother put my socks and shoes on me. I was wearing a red plaid dress she and her Mother had made for me and I was saying, “And I get to go the next day and the next day and the next day…..” (I can just see my own little grandaughter saying the same thing today!) I remember a Christmas morning, running into the living room to see a small record player and several 78rpm singles beside it. How happy I was! Another memory there is of what I think was a birthday party on the back patio. There were several 6 or 7 year old girls there. A radio was playing and, as I reached for the dial, the WBAM radio announcer, Joe Rumore, said, “Uh, uh, uh. Don’t you touch that dial.” I recall jumping back and having the impression that he had seen me reaching for the dial!
Memories………I’ve forgotten so much more than I’ve remembered. It’s probably better that way!