There's a common saying that "kids say the darndest things" -- in fact, there was a TV comedy series by the same name during the late 1990s, where children were asked questions and their comedic answers were aired. It's a show concept that first appeared in the earliest days of television, on "Art Linkletter's House Party" from the 1940s to the 1960s.
Any parent or grandparent knows, there's no telling what a young child will say.
My niece, as a baby, went through a phase where she called any man she saw "Daddy," warranting strange looks from men in the grocery store as she pointed and called every man within sight her father.
My other niece, as a preschooler, was listening to a radio ad for Viagra and asked her mother what "erectile dysfunction" meant. Her mother explained, as generally as she could, that it meant that a body part didn't work the way it was supposed to, hoping that would quell any more questions. But a few days later, her preschooler fell down and hurt her knee and started screaming on the playground that she had "erectile dysfunction."
You just never know what a kid is going to say.
As a parent of three young kids, it's those moments where your kids say something so cute or so sweet that you want to burn it into the back of your brain so that you'll remember forever. And then there are the moments when you feel like you must be doing something right. After all, so much of parenting is flying blind by the seat of your pants, hoping the job you are doing is good enough.
There are also the moments when you are trying to be serious with your child, only they say something in return that you end up covering your mouth or having to look the opposite way just to stifle down the giggles.
I still remember the first time my oldest daughter said, "moon" as a young child. We were standing in our front yard in the dark of night, saying goodbye to my grandparents, who had been visiting us. I had her in my arms and we looked up through the branches of the giant oaks in our yard and sure enough, there was the moon, peaking through. I remember we were all so proud of her new word. A year later, those trees were taken by the tornado, and a few months after that, my grandfather was gone, too.
Last week, as I bent over my 5-year-old son's bed, kissing him goodnight, my son asked me why I wear two rings on one finger. I explained to him that his daddy gave one to me when he asked me to marry him, and the other ring he gave me on our wedding day. I explained to my son that when he's older and he falls in love, he can give a ring to the person he wants to marry.
"I already know who I'm going to marry, Momma," he replied, explaining that it was a girl with bright blue eyes and blonde hair, a girl that apparently half the other boys in kindergarten fight over.
"She's so pretty and she's my girlfriend," my boy proclaimed proudly.
As a parent, I want to remember these moments because I know that they are getting more fleeting as my kids age. I've also found, over time, that I remember fewer and fewer of the cute things they say or do. And so, I bought myself a Valentine's gift this month, a journal called "My Quotable Kid," where parents write down things their child says, along with the date, the child's name and other details.
I've tried (and failed) at keeping a journal in the past and I'm not great at keeping up with the baby books. But I plan to at least write down the things my kids say. Because one day, when I'm old and at the end of my life, I want to remember the sweet years, the years when my kids were young.
They say that when your kids are young, the days are long and the years are short -- and I want to remember every minute I can.
-- Lydia Seabol Avant writes The Mom Stop for The Tuscaloosa News. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.