DonnaM » Blog Archive » A toybox full of memories

A toybox full of memories

I’ve been reading Don Norman’s Emotional Design and thinking about the idea of visceral processing. I haven’t studied much cognitive processing theory, so this is new and interesting to me.

A related interesting thing happened on the weekend – I was attempting to clean up my daughter’s room. I was finding old scraps of drawing and cheap rubbishy toys – things that didn’t look important to me – but she wouldn’t let me throw them out. I could see in her face that the idea of throwing these things out was quite distressing. I listened to why she wouldn’t throw them – it wasn’t that she wanted to use them, or that the toys were fun to play with, but that they had memories for her. Some were drawings that someone had done for her, and some of the toys were ones that she remembered where they came from and other associations. The associations weren’t necessarily special – not from momentus events like birthdays or holidays – just little everyday things.

I think beyond this natural visceral reaction to her memories being thrown away, there is probably an age-related effect as well. She is 5, so only has a few years of memories anyway. She has no written language yet (so no way of writing her history), so for her, much of who she is and her short history is tied up in those memories – they may look like rubbish to me, but to her they are part of who she is.

So, looks like the toybox full of memories stays full until some of them fade away…

One Response to “A toybox full of memories”

  1. Alexander Says:

    My daughter is excactly the same; if mum tries to get rid of some of the million toys she’s got, there is an outburst of tears and several stories to why this perticular piece of broken plastic is important to her. As much as we don’t really understand the “what” of that, we try to understand the “why” and respect her wishes, unless we can convince her otherwise.

    I had similar experiences with myself when I moved from Norway to Australia about 5 months ago; there was a lot of stuff I really should have chucked, but they brought memories. We’re funny this way, because the memories are supposed to be there regardless, free to ponder about at any given time we choose. But we don’t. Maybe busy life gets in the way. I think a lot of us needs these visual triggers to remind us that the present life also includes a lot of past.

    (BTW, Grace has mentioned your daughter on a few occasions, and would love a playdate. :)