My husband Chris has always said, “We remember the really good and the really bad and forget all the mediocre life stuff.”
Because we all tend to forget so much, he wants his kids to look back and reflect, remember, and relive some of the moments that they didn’t think meant much at the time. Or maybe they were meaningful moments but were soon forgotten because today’s children have so many special times. Distractions alone probably account for lots of memory loss.
Chris started little notebooks, one for each child, when our daughter was around 12 and our son was 8. He would write a paragraph about something that had happened . . . one of those big or small things, sometimes something very ordinary. He would tell them how he felt through it, what he noticed about their reaction, and why the outcome was what it was. He would also assure them of our love. Over the years he has written in their notebooks from time to time—certainly not daily, but whenever he feels inspired.
The plan all along has been that they get their book when they go off to college, and they don’t know about it until then. We dropped our daughter off last August at a university in a different state where she knew no one. She was to play college sports and was excited about her new grownup life. But she told us later how she wept in sadness and fear of the unknown once we had left. Then she found the notebook. And the tears flowed for an entirely different reason. The notebook meant the world to her. Excerpts in her book included the point where boys started to take notice of her, the day she got a truck, sports moments, what he noticed about her spirituality after a mission trip, etc.
For our teenage son, the writing of the notebook is ongoing. Subjects include physical and spiritual growth, respectful treatment of women, moments with the puppy . . . you get the gist. (Topics will vary with the child because all children are unique.)
I love that my husband did—and is doing—this. He wishes that he’d had the idea when they were really small so that the notebooks would’ve been longer. But he’s shown that it’s possible to start where they are.
Women, you can’t talk (or nag!) your husbands into doing this, but it’s an idea you can present them. For fathers, this can be one of the better gifts you give your children in their lifetime!
My husband is writing a notebook for me, but he told me I won’t get it ’til he dies. I don’t want to think about life without him, but I’m sure that’s one little book I won’t be able to put down.
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