It was my first day of Nursery school in June 1994. I was three, and my brother had just made his loud entrance into this world (bawling, I assume) about a month earlier. I remember tiny little me, in my school uniform, wearing white socks with lace tops and black patent leather Mary Janes. I don’t remember when this photo was taken, or who took it, but I do remember wearing that uniform and making my excited little way to school. I loved those shoes.
While I was very excited about school, I felt less enthusiasm about having a little brother. Like many older siblings, I wasn’t sure how to take this tiny red-faced ball who had suddenly manifested in my life. I think it’s rather telling that I have no memories of my Mom’s pregnancy, but I have memories of trying to discreetly poke his nose when he was sleeping so he would cry. I was rather mean towards him for a couple of years, but I eventually grew out of it. I love him to pieces – I would sacrifice my life for that boy, if the situation called for it. And I also still think about him as being permanently twelve or thirteen. It does not help that my “little” boy is actually 20 now. *wails*
Anyhow, it was the first day of school, a hot and humid June day. I was so happy to be going to school, so I was leading the way and pulling hard at my Mommy’s hand. The sidewalk leading to my school was gravelly, on a downwards slope. Mom had my baby brother in a carrier on her chest. I didn’t quite understand what this meant in terms of safety, so I just kept tugging at my Mom’s head, insistent on hurrying towards where I knew my playmates would be. I was used to having (most) of my whims being catered to, because up until my brother showed up I was the only child, and the first grandchild on my Dad’s side of the family. I may or may not have been spoiled a little bit. But cut me some slack, it was the first day of school! New crayons! Pencils! Packed lunch! Notebooks! HOMEWORK!
But in my enthusiasm, I totally forgot that my brother’s weight on my Mom’s chest would have made her rather wobbly. I tugged too hard, and boom! Mom tripped. I remember her on her hands and knees, motionless for long seconds. I’m willing to bet that her desire to strangle me was rather strong in those moments. I also remember my brother’s head precariously close to the rocky pavement. If she hadn’t caught herself on her hands and knees, my brother’s head would have been dashed onto the rocks at the tender age of a month. It was a good thing she tripped right in front of a convenience store, so we went in to buy something to disinfect the giant scratches on her knees (Green Cross rubbing alcohol, anyone?). The guilt when I realized I could have killed my baby brother was.. immense. I still carry that around today.
And that, my friends, is my first memory. What’s yours?