So often we think that toddlers don’t have the ability to remember things that happened when they were so very small, but the mind is an incredible thing. If our toddler’s mind has deemed something as important enough to remember, we will remember it for the rest of our lives. Yesterday, I had the pleasure of sitting with my mom, Aunt Sandy, and my sister, Cheryl at my mom’s house, while we scanned some pictures, and talked about family history. We talked of many different family stories, but one that stood out in my mind was Aunt Sandy’s account of the entrance of my grandparents’ first grandchild, my cousin, Susie. For any grandparent, the moment when you actually become a grandparent for the first time is amazing…a moment you will never forget. But, what of the small children? Most of us assume that there really won’t be small children to consider when it is the first grandchild, but sometimes, the aunts and uncles are barely toddlers themselves. Such was the case with Aunt Sandy when Susie was born.
When she became an aunt, my Aunt Sandy was just three years old…too young to really remember much about it, right? Wrong! This would be an event that Aunt Sandy’s three year old mind knew was a life changing event. She was never going to be the same after that November day…she wasn’t just a little girl now…she was an aunt. I can’t say for sure that Aunt Sandy knew what being and aunt really meant, or that she understood that there was a new baby in the family now…at least, not at first. Then came the moment when the baby was to be brought over to meet her family.
The house was filled with all the family members. That wasn’t such an unusual thing for my grandparents’ home, so it probably didn’t seem like anything new to Aunt Sandy. Then my Aunt Evelyn and Uncle George brought the baby into the house. Everyone gathered around the new little family. There were the usual ooo’s and ahh’s, as everyone vied for a position where they could get a good look at the baby. But, standing in the back of the crowd, momentarily forgotten in all the excitement, stood my Aunt Sandy, her eyes as big as silver dollars, as she took in this incredible scene. Her little three year old toddler mind was trying to figure out what all this meant, because it didn’t take an adult to know that everything in her world had changed…she knew it, she just didn’t really know how much it had changed.
Feeling maybe just a little bit nervous about all this activity, Aunt Sandy went up to her mom, and put her little hand out and touched her mom. Grandma turned around, perhaps realizing for the first time that the prior youngest person in the family had been momentarily forgotten in all the excitement. As she looked down at her youngest daughter, her youngest child, she knew just what was needed. She said to Aunt Sandy, “Do you want to see the baby?” Aunt Sandy nodded, Grandma picked her up, and she was able to get her first look at the baby that had changed her life forever…the baby that had made her an aunt. She now knew that something amazing had happened in her family, and this was a moment she would remember for the rest of her life.
As we talked about the way that such an early memory could stay with a person, I could see on Aunt Sandy’s face, that the picture of that day was very clearly imprinted in her mind. It was almost as if she was that three year old toddler again, standing in back of the crowd of family members wondering what was going on. That earliest memory had so completely imprinted itself on her mind that she could still see it as if she was back there again.