One of the best gifts I received lately was a journal from my cousin, Maura. It is entitled My Quotable Kid. The inside pages are blank and there is room to jot down the memorable things your children say. I have always been meaning to do this. Life is so hectic and it is easy to forget these gems of honest truth and observation. They are some of the most remarkable mementos of their youth and worth a revisit in the future.
With this in mind, I thought I would share:
Children often think of their family first.
Haircuts have been a big thing in our home. Thanks to Disney’s Tangled, no one wants to trim their hair. Sonoma finally decided she wanted to cut her hair and donate it to little girls that need wigs. Before her haircut, she seemed upset. I asked her if she had changed her mind. She said, “No, Mom. I’m just not sure if I should give my hair to those kids that need wigs or maybe Daddy and Pop Pop Joe can split it.”
They show prudent caution.
Sonoma: “Does my shirt say I am the big sister?”
Me: “No, it says ‘I love Santa.'”
Sonoma: “I do love Santa. Do you love Santa too, Nennie?”
Nennie (Sienna): “No, I don’t love Santa. I don’t even know him well.”
They show keen, sensory observation.
Sonoma was running. My dad worried. He told her to slow down. His warning remained unheeded. He then yelled to her, “Sonoma, walk like Pop!” She started walking slowly with a slight limp (the way my father, with a bad foot, does.)
They use their keen, sensory observation to warn.
“Mom should I call the firetrucks? = Never something you want to hear while your cooking (Sonoma’s response to the garlic I had singed).
They are compact, human litmus tests of truth.
Our 12 year-old dog had digestive issues and had defected all over the living room floor. Before I called the professional carpet cleaners, I spent a good hour shampooing the rug, applying chemical solutions made specifically for pets, opening windows, and deodorizing the house with the hopes of solving the problem. I asked Sonoma, “Don’t you think its better now?” Sonoma: “Oh Mommy. The poop is so strong. I can taste it in my mouth.”
They have a unique way of phrasing things.
Sienna’s hand was dirty: “Wait mom! Help! My hand. I have stink on it!”
They are enterprising.
At school, they asked Sonoma if she could give Santa one present what it would be. She replied, “wrapping paper to wrap more gifts!”
They are worldy.
Sonoma asked me what our dinner was called. “cavatelli with broccoli”, I replied. She asked, “Is that Spanish or English?…because that’s all I speak.”
They offer unsollicted advice.
I took all three daughters to the grocery store and we learned about the foods and what they are used for. My two oldest girls asked me many great questions. I was feeling proud. We arrived at the cashier. He had a long, Mumford & Sons style beard. Sonoma said, “Excuse me, can I ask you a question?” In my mind, I thought what intelligent, nutritional question is she going to pose now?
Sonoma replied, “Don’t you think its time to shave?”
They ponder the beginnings of life.
Sonoma: “Mom, Scarlett came out of your tummy and that’s why it is so big.”
Sienna: “Mom, did I come out of your butt and that’s why it is so big?”
They ponder the origin of life.
Sonoma: “Mom, I know God made us. right?”
Me: “Yes, that is correct.”
Sonoma: “But who made God?”
They ponder the end of life.
On New Year’s Eve:
Me: “Listen up everyone. I want to tell you something exciting. Do you know what happens tonight at midnight?”
Sonoma: “I know! Are we all are going to die together?”
(I know…a bit morbid! In my defense they don’t watch sci-fi and we’re not dooms-dayers.)
They ponder the capabilities of the elderly.
My 4 year-old daughter Sonoma asked me this past December if this was going to be the “last Christmas”. I asked her why she would ask that. She said, “Because Santa is getting very old and I’m afraid he will be too old to do it next year.”
And then there was this:
Meet our Buddha statue, a left-over remnant from my apartment when I was single and my life was Zen-like, and there was time to worry about Feng Shui.
It sits by our fireplace.
Sonoma used it as a cup rest.
Sienna would often pat its head and call it ‘Baby”.
Scarlett kisses its head and calls it ‘Pop Pop Tom’.
And then there was that:
This is a picture of the three and a half -foot tall, wooden butler that stands in our office and holds business cards. When Sonoma was two, she insisted this was a statute of her Pop Pop Joe. She’d walk around waving it at it and sitting by it.
She told her sister Sienna and now she too believes the painted carving is an ode to her paternal grandfather. She asked why he only has one leg.
Just like us, they fear germs.
Our entire household was sick with the flu. The kids recovered and I was finally on the mend. Sienna climbed in bed with me in my room and snuggled up to me.
Sienna: “Mom are you still sick?”
Sienna: “Okay, then I need you to find somewhere else to go and lay because I don’t want to get sick again.”
They fear zombies, too.
On Halloween while Trick-or-Treating, an elderly woman approached our path. Probably for the sake of balance, she was walking with her arms outstretched. My 3 year-old started yelling, “Look it Mom! It is a real Zombie!”
They are our cheerleaders and mini life coaches.
I was tired and had been up with our eighteen month-old daughter, Scarlett, because she was sick. Half-awake, I burned the eggs for breakfast. My 4 year-old,Sonoma, asked me to re-make them. Her 3 year-old sister, Sienna, agreed they were not edible. I took out the eggs again and was standing over the stove in a daze. Sonoma said, “What’s wrong Mom? Are you afraid you’re gonna cook bad again? It’s okay….just give it a try.”
They sometimes doubt us.
Sienna came into my room with her dress on backwards. I told her. She returned to her room. I heard her whispering with her sister, “Mommy said this is on backwards. I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. You think she’s right?”
They favor their fathers.
Sienna: “My Daddy works so hard for him family at work. I not sure what my Mommy does.”
They set boundaries.
We spoke about a friend who lives with their grandparents.
Me: “When I get older and you have a family, can I come live with you?”
Sonoma: “Um, I am not sure that is a good idea but I can build you a house and make you a good dinner.”
They seek privacy.
Sienna, “Mom, I don’t want Santa and Jesus watching me everywhere I go. I need privacy.”
They often have an alibi.
When the toys were strewn all over the room, I asked who did it. Sonoma, age two at the time, replied “Caillou” (the fictitious cartoon of a precocious 4 year-old).
When I asked who drew in crayon on the wall, Sienna replied “Sweetie.” (our precocious Beagle-Basset Hound, who last time I checked, does not have opposable thumbs).
They say what we are afraid to.
We had relatives visiting our newborn baby. By nature, I have always been a ‘people pleaser’. I see some of those traits in my eldest, Sonoma, while my middle-daughter, Sienna, seems to hold steady to her own convictions. Although I try not to assign any personality traits to them, with my clinical background, I find the observation interesting.
The relatives had been over quite some time and announced they were leaving. They walked to the door. Sonoma responded, “I wish you wouldn’t go. I love when you visit.” They continued to chat for another good 4-5 minutes at the door. Sienna then piped in, “It is time to go. Can’t you see Mommy is tired and baby needs to sleep?”
Out of embarrassment, I tried to quiet Sienna by correcting her manners but it just made it worse. “It’s not bad manners for me, Mom. It is bad manners for them.”
They have their own convictions.
On Thanksgiving, Sienna passed by the oven while they were checking the turkey. The oven was eye-level and I saw her reaction. I could see the fret and confusion. She turned to me and said, “They cooked a turkey, Mama?” Lost for words, I responded ‘yes’. She replied, “well I will never eat it.”
She didn’t eat it. Future PETA activist.
They keep us conscientious of our hygiene and appearance.
Sienna (to me): “Mom, do you forget to comb your hair for everyday?”
Sienna, who has an incredibly keen sense of smell, to a smoker: “Did you forget to brush your teeth for forever?” (We followed that comment with a lesson in hurting people’s feeling)
Sometimes they soften the blow.
Sonoma to me a few weeks later. (After crawling in my bed when I woke up.): “Mom, I love you but can I ask you something? Did you eat a dumpling because it smells not so good?
Sometimes they butter us up.
Sonoma: “Mom, you’re the best cooker, and a princess and I love you. Can you take us to the movies?”
They spill our secrets.
Two relatives were visiting and became involved in a heated discussion. The one adult told the other adult to “Shut up!” Sienna heard this. She put her hand on her hip and finger in the air.
Sienna: “Now wait everybody! We don’t say ‘Shut-Up’ in this house. It is a bad word and only my dad and mommy sometimes can say bad words. I don’t know why.”
They rat us out.
Grandma: “This garage needs to be cleaned out and organized.” (commenting on our garage)
Sonoma: “Yes but Mommy said it’s like that because you stored some of your stuff in there when you moved.”
And just when you are about to get mad at them, they mishear things in the most adorable ways.
Sienna playing in her room with Mr. Potato Head…
Sonoma: “What are you doing in here?”
Sienna: “I’m playing with the tomato….Mr. Tomato-Head.
They make simple yet profound observations.
At the marina at dusk:
Sonoma: “Mom, stop what you’re doing and come here. You have to see this now.”
Me (walking over to her): “What is it?”
Sonoma: “Look at the sky and this sunset. It is too beautiful!”
They see life brighter. Colors are bolder. The air is crisper and the world has more sparkle.
After collecting shells and sand dollars on the beach all day, Sonoma came up to me and hugged me. She said, “Thanks Mom. Today was the very best day of my life!”
And just as fleeting as a pink sunset, their little, endearing nature is fleeting. Embrace it. Soon they will grow and it will be gone.
Sonoma: “Name of the Father,
and the Holy Spirit,
(rather than Amen)
One day Sienna will outgrow the way she pronounces “sang-wich” or “Bubba Guppies” (for the show Bubble Guppies). One day she will stop pluralizing Coco- Puffses. One day their blunt observation will be masked in what is socially appropriate. One day I won’t be the first person they come to with each and every observation they make and thought that they think. For now, it is a privilege. I will miss these days.