He and his big brother put up a tent made of blankets in the living room, which serves as their classroom. In this classroom, my eldest is the terror teacher whose only teaching aid is a laptop while my youngest is the assertive student insisting his preference, "I like pbskids.org!"
From there, a relationship, made of two extremes rolled into one, is born: frenemies.
They would laugh and enjoy each other's company in an hour and then complain about and fight against each other the next. They would profess passionately how they don’t love each other anymore in a minute and then they would compliment and appreciate each other the next. They would be both on a time-out in a while and then they would fall asleep hugging each other by the end of the day.
I smiled while looking at both of them in slumber: my oldest was lying on his stomach with his little brother’s leg on his lower back resting comfortably. Their pretend classroom had been transformed into a bedroom after five hours of use.
They put up their tent after our morning snack, but it was not until after our lunch that they unveiled it into a full-blown classroom pretend.
I fixed their beddings and tore down some of the blankets they made into walls for ventilation. I also placed an electric fan adjacent to the tent.
As kids, my cousins, siblings and I did the same pretend play including the catfights. The only difference was, we didn't have computer or backpack back then. We only had banana leaves, which served as our papers and dried midribs of palm leaves in replacement for pens and pencils. Just like in a real school, we would play hide-and-seek in the prairie during our pretend recess time, either in moonlight or under the heat of the sun. At that time, few families had electricity or television making outdoor play, mostly school pretend, typical. And the plainness of our wants and needs fostered friendships, interactions, and sharing of food and stories among siblings, cousins, and even neighbors. Like my boys, we had so much fun!
My memory of this school pretend play takes so much space in my heart that though it happened in the first four years of my life, it is as vivid as my recall of events from last week.
According to a study conducted by Carole Peterson, Gwynn Morris, Lynne Baker-Ward, and Susan Flynn, early memories loaded with either positive, negative or mixed emotions are more likely than others to survive childhood amnesia, a condition common to the majority of adults characterized by their lack or diminished ability to remember events from the first 3-4 years of life. While children exhibit an increased capacity to recall events from their early years from age 6 to 9, they start to experience a certain level of childhood amnesia by the age of 11.
Published by the American Psychological Association, the study found that emotional events in the first four years of a person’s lives were two and a half times more likely to be remembered over neutral events. The researchers believed that preschool children who engaged in more elaborative discussions with their mothers about recent experiences were more likely to remember them when they are adolescents.
The researchers suggested that parents should encourage their children to articulate their emotional responses to experienced events. Elaborative parent–child reminiscing might be one means of increasing coherence, they added.
A Battle For Memory Recall
In her book Lost Lake, Sarah Addison Allen asked, “Don't you wish you could take a single childhood memory and blow it up into a bubble and live inside it forever?”
While I am teaching my boys to be self-reflective, there is no way this memorable part of their lives would headline their answer to the said question unless it first survived a bout with childhood amnesia.
I know, there would be mundane, lifeless seasons in their lives. And this type of seasons could be as frequent as its counterpart: intense, tiring battles. My mother instinct tells me that in one of these battles, new titans as powerful as childhood amnesia would arise ready to wound the army of their strongest memories.
My hope and prayer is that no wounds would be able to stop them celebrating the joy of simple memory like this. That somewhere in their beings, love for simple things and memories would be rooted so deeply that it could not be toppled by any challenges and dangers life might throw at them.
As for me, my memory of childhood school pretend is one of those events I wish to blow up into a bubble to be able to live inside it forever. If not forever, probably, from time-to-time whenever I need a place of retreat, a place of solitude, or a place where I could just be me.
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