I spent this past weekend taking part in a development workshop that was put on by The Scottish Documentary Institute. While it was really helpful with the film, it got me thinking about something else.
One of the other films was about memories, and the filmmaker was using photographs from the subject’s childhood. This led to a discussion about how you can show a person a fake photograph from their childhood, say when they were four or five, and they’ll remember it as a real memory. That got me thinking.
At first, I thought, if I had a child, rather than take them to Disney World, I might doctor up a bunch of photos of them at Disney World. Then when they grow up, they’ll think they really went. And when they are eight or nine and they say they want to go, I’ll say, “We took you there four years ago, we can’t afford to go again.”
In fact, I could create a whole series of fake vacations and give my child amazing memories of Hawaii, and the Grand Canyon, and going on safari in Africa, and all for the cost of Photoshop.
But then I really got to thinking. If our experiences shape who we become, and I now have the power to give me imagined offspring any experience I want to give them, could I give them an experience that will make them a better adult? For example, I could always tell my “son” about the time we went hiking in the Grand Canyon alone when he was four, and I broke my leg, and he had to walk all alone for five hours to the ranger’s station to get help. He was brave, he was strong, and he saved my life. That could be a life defining moment for him. Something he looks back on as an adult to give himself courage.
What false memories would you give your child?