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Story Archives


Pauls Toutonghi

By Pauls Toutonghi


I’ve been staring at babies a lot, lately.  

My wife gave birth to twins. The house is full of howling and giggling at all hours of the day and night.  

The babies make noise, too.  

But since the noise they make is not English noise, I have to admit that I’ve started to wonder what they’re thinking. And they clearly are thinking. Here’s a list of what I’ve noticed that they perceive: Hunger, joy, panic, satisfaction, pain, excitement, sleepiness, wonder.  

These emotions are clear; there’s no doubt when they’re hungry, happy, or sleepy. They are not shy. As Woody Guthrie sang to little Arlo Guthrie so many years ago: “I want my milk and I want it now.”  

But there’s one thing that my children don’t yet seem to do. They don’t remember

I have no memories from when I was an infant. And I’m always suspicious of people who have them—no matter how stridently they insist that they can close their eyes and see, vividly see, the color of their nursery walls. I just don’t buy it. I think they’ve built that memory as adults. They’ve sneaked into the citadel and planted the seed of the memory, themselves. We learn to remember at about the same time we learn to speak, I think.


What’s something that happened this week you’d like to keep as a memory?


Pauls Toutonghi's next book is True North, the true story of a family's search for its lost dog. It will be published by Knopf in 2016.