On my only son’s eighteenth birthday, I presented him with a homemade book titled The Harry Chronicles. It was nothing fancy. Typed pages glued into blank eight-by-five-inch journal I picked up at the local bookstore when Harry was a year old. At the urging of my friend Debbie, I bought it to write down all the funny things he, like all kids, would say growing up.
I recorded a decade of “Harry-isms.” There was “In,” a one-year-old’s one-word tale about the flushed disappearance of a red Matchbox Ferrari. And this insight from age eleven: “If you put wet clothes on top of dry clothes, the wet clothes don’t dry and the dry clothes get wet.” But instead of chronicling stories or sayings as they occurred, I just scribbled notes on the closest scrap of paper and shoved it into the blank book stashed in my nightstand drawer. “I’ll write it up later,” I told myself each time.
Only later didn’t come until a few weeks before the March birthday that launched my son into official, voter-status adulthood. I spent the evenings of a ski vacation at my computer reconstructing almost all of my 136 scrawled snippets of the unforgettable. I say “almost all” for two reasons.
First, several of the scribbles were frustratingly illegible. My script handwriting sucks, and even now I spend more time than I like deciphering my note taking. Then there were the dozen or so scrap writings I chose not to include. These were memories of moments more tender than funny. Private stories I had yet to tell Harry about. So I put them back in the envelope marked “Save.”
Two years ago, when Harry turned twenty-one, I shared the personal stories with him. He didn’t remember most of them. Like the time he was two and asked me how I knew he was a boy. I confessed there were many times I didn’t know what the hell to say or how to react. And I admitted I had made more than my fair share of mistakes trying to master good mothering. “Like telling me your fur coat was made from road kill?” he asked, with a smile that hinted at comedic genius. (Yeah, that time, too.)
With Harry’s permission, the sequestered stories are now being told in a different book, titled My Son Wears Heels: One Mom’s Journey from Clueless to Kickass. But I promise to sprinkle a few funnies from The Harry Chronicles here in my blog while I continue birthing my most recent labor of love.
In the meantime, kids will continue to say funny stuff. Send me your favorite anecdote in the Comments section below, and I’ll choose a few for future posting. And if you’re a parent, whether or not you share a story here, I hope you’re writing that stuff down.