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What Our Children Will Remember From This Year 

click to enlarge ELISA JÄRNEFELT
  • Elisa Järnefelt

As a child in Finland, I made the trip to school every day by myself. The journey varied depending on the season. In the fall and spring, I could bicycle the one-mile ride in what felt like an instant. In the winter, the walk was slow and long, just like the season. When spring finally arrived, it always felt so new, unprecedented somehow.

At some point, I started to sense time in loops: Every season reminded me of that season the year before.

This spring reminds me of last spring. And last spring at this time, we had spent our first weeks in isolation, and the "Stay Home, Stay Safe" order had just been put in place in Vermont. I was so worried about so many things but, in particular, I agonized over how the isolation would affect our two-and-a-half-year-old daughter.

"What if this determines the core memories of her childhood?" I wondered aloud to my husband. I was thinking about the concept of time through my adult lens.

A few days ago, our daughter called for me. As I walked into her room, I found her standing by the window, speaking animatedly.

"'I could hear the wild geese!'" she told me. "'I looked out and three geese were flying in the sky! I just yelled to them,Welcome back wild geese!'"

I looked at the wide smile on her face and remembered how, last year at this time, we made a trip to the forest every day. As the human world seemed so chaotic, we both learned to look up at the trees and sky, to pay attention to the birds' song.

"This is at the core of her memories," I realized. "She remembers the birds' song." I smiled back at her.


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