A mother I know kept journals handy in a kitchen drawer when her twins were young, and says that looking back melts her heart and makes her realize how fast time goes by. We should all try to keep track of special moments. Jot notes down, even on scraps of paper, to record specific anecdotes as they happen and preserve a crystal-clear memory. Bonus: When a special time such as Father’s Day comes around, you’ll have silly and sweet quotes ready to accompany photos for a quick keepsake book.
My current preschool students are playing in their first T-ball games, and recently finished their first soccer seasons with great team names such as the Rainbow Fireball Panthers. I’ve encouraged their parents not to worry about winning or losing, but instead to take notes about what the kids say on the sidelines.
It echoes what I did nearly two decades ago, when my own son was about 4 and on his first T-ball team. I’m so glad I wrote down some memories from that time. I’ll share a few below:
Matthew raves about his new “mitten” the night before the first practice. “Some people call it a mitt,” he says, “but I call it a mitten.”
At his first game: I grab a hot dog and Mountain Dew and wait for Matthew to bat. It’s raining cats and dogs and we’re up 22 to 12. I’ve just gotten the kid through two rounds of strep throat and now we are out in the pouring rain. … I’m drenched in my work clothes. Matthew slips out of the dugout and looks out of his green cap and says, “We won!”
Later in the season: In the outfield, Matthew plays in the dirt, rubs his little fingers along the chalk line, turns his back on the game and daydreams. That was my angel in the outfield.
I talk about the third-base coach. “Wait, which is third base? Is that the one near home?” I ask if he knew that the bases were loaded when he went up to bat. His reply: “What’s loaded?”
After one game: “We won! By seven strikes!”
Sports never particularly appealed to him; he found his calling elsewhere, and early in life. In elementary school, he already had his career path set: He wrote down that he wanted to get a “techncal engneering diploma” (sic). He did, and is now in one of the best fields, computer programming, while his parents are in journalism – one of the worst.
He was practical and curious with a mind toward solving problems at a young age:
• “I need you to eat a popsicle so I can have the stick for my puppet.”
• Learning to write: “These are the words, but not how they are lined up.”
• Mom: “I just cannot find the words I need.” Son: “Maybe you can look in the dictionary and find them.”
• Disappointment upon arrival at a voting station: “I thought we were going boating!”
• On a lifelong love of freeform Lego creations: “I know I didn’t follow the map, but that’s OK.”
One day, when we saw a dad looking sad, Matthew said, “He probably doesn’t have a T-ball son.” Indeed.
Betsy Flagler, a journalist based in Davidson, N.C., is a mother and preschool teacher. If you have tips or questions, please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Parent to Parent at 704-236-9510.