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Family Funnies: Tips from the Parent Powerline
Friday, May 22, 2020 by Becky Cerling Powers

When our 11-year-old granddaughter Edith came for a two-week visit one summer, she discovered the photo book that our daughter-in-law sent us several years ago showing pictures of our then-three-year-old granddaughter Nora and recounting some of the funny remarks Nora made. Edith laughed and laughed.

She especially liked the story about the day Nora’s swimming teacher gave all the kids suckers on their last day of swimming class. Nora’s mom took the sucker away for the car ride home. When they got home, Nora asked, “Can I have my choking hazard back now?”

I laugh every time I re-read this collection of Nora’s preschool remarks, and her older cousins all think the book is pretty funny, too.

Grandma started it

It has become a family tradition to try to preserve some of the amusing remarks our kids make, a tradition that began with my grandmother who told my Aunt Jean, “Write down the funny and touching things your children say and do when they’re little. You think you’ll remember those things, but you won’t.”

Aunt Jean continued it

Aunt Jean followed her mother’s advice, and when her children were grown, she showed me her collection of stories. I sat down and laughed and laughed. Years later, after Jean passed away and after the advent of photocopiers, I asked my cousin to make a copy for me. In the meantime, I started collecting stories of my own from our own three kids.

And I took their advice

And my grandmother was right. Every time I re-read those old anecdotes, I laugh all over again, amazed at how much of it I had forgotten. I think how much fun we would have lost if I hadn’t written down the children’s funny and touching moments while they were fresh.

For years I kept the stories mish-mashed together in a file folder. About once a year the older children would rediscover the file and spend an hour or more giggling, whooping, and reading the entries aloud to the rest of the family. Then one year I finally typed the whole collection of anecdotes into the computer and made a book for each of the children for Christmas.

It was a hit.

An alternative to the Baby Book

Most baby books have spaces for writing children’s funny remarks, but the pages tend to stay blank, especially after the first child. The book is too intimidating and the space too limiting. Parents don’t want cross-outs and spelling errors in the baby book because it’s a keepsake. So they wait until they have time to write everything neatly and perfectly. When that time finally comes, if it ever does, they’ve forgotten what happened.

Here is an alternative approach that has worked well for me. 

  • Use a simple collection method to keep from bogging down. I kept a file folder in a permanent place, wrote down stories on handy scraps of paper as soon as possible after they happened, and then dropped the scraps into the file. Some scraps sat in the bottom of my purse for a few months, and some got mixed in with the bills, but eventually most of them ended up in the file.
  • Write the incident down while it’s fresh. If it’s too inconvenient to write the story right away, jot down a few notes to help you write it later.
  • Be sure to include the children’s ages and the approximate date when the incident occurred (season and year are sufficient).
  • Be sensitive to your children’s feelings. Some stories may embarrass them later and should be eliminated. Others may embarrass them at one age and delight them at another. You can keep questionable items in a separate place. Just try to use good judgment and err on the side of loving silence. Then, when children get older, give them censorship privileges on the questionable pile. No incident, however funny, is worth causing your child unnecessary pain.
  • Don’t fret about typing up the project until your children are all out of diapers and old enough to start reading what you write.
  • Review the file every so often and share it with your children. For us, reading through it was so much fun it was an incentive to keep up with the project.

© 2018 Becky Cerling Powers

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