Your child utters the cutest, most amazing, quotable words — words you can't wait to tell your spouse, sister, or grandparents. Friends at Junior League or soccer practice all exclaim, "How precocious and clever!" Then they proceed to tell you what their little girl or boy said at breakfast that morning.

In the busy bustle of the rest of your day, our child's words may be lost in getting to work on time, making a dental appointment, or dropping the car off for a checkup. So how do you save their words, actions, unique understanding, or childlike clarity of a universal truth?

Beyond the Photos

Unlike scrapbooking or saving pictures of your child on disc, it's harder to remember their exact words. Pictures capture a specific glimpse in time which can jog your memory several months later. Words, however, have a way of quickly losing that special freshness or turn of phrase that, at the time, totally blew you away.

Reader's Digest used to have a section open for parents to send their child's clever sayings. As a child, I must have said something remarkable but I don't remember what. But I do remember that my Mother thought it so marvelous she sent it for publication. It didn't make the cut, but you get the idea. I knew as a child that she had thought highly of my words and that made me feel special.

Saving Precious Words

As children grow up, words form the story of their lives. Someday they may want to write their own memoir and will treasure your caring as pure gold. Consider these four tips for saving your child's words.

  1. Start with a small notebook — and pen — easily accessible in pocket, purse, or glove compartment.
  2. Jot down or text their words as memory prompts to finish at a later time. Include their age as well as the date, place, or event. Write a brief story when you can find a few quiet moments. Capture not only your child's words but their feelings. Perhaps they acted in a caring way that showed their character or personality.
  3. Add to your memory collection your child's vacations, holidays, birthdays, or reaction to the arrival of a new puppy, first batch of cookies baked without help, homerun at Little League — even a stay at the hospital — all memorable events. Or the fun they invented while playing inside on a rainy day.
  4. Young children like to draw and tell the story in their pictures. Write their words and save with their picture story. Someday you'll look back on these treasures and literally marvel at the precious treasures you kept.

Think of other ways to keep your child's stories enchanting for years to come, and have fun doing it.

Marilyn H. Collins is an instructor for memoir and family history writing courses both classroom and online. Her Step-by-Step Writing Guides include Memoir Writing Guide: Brighten Your Leaf on the Family Tree and You Can Write a Book About Your Family. Collins is a frequent workshop leader and conference speaker for writing and genealogical groups. Her award-winning history books and magazine articles often focus on tales of the past. Collins is currently owner of CHS Publishing.