As kids, my friends and I recorded ourselves on our old cassette players and boomboxes. Sometimes just talking to each other, sometimes singing, sometimes recording each other snoring during a sleepover. 20 years ago I taped my grandparents singing. I’ll never forget my grandfather, my tough, two-pack-a-day, iron worker grandfather, singing about my grandmother, “Five foot two, eyes of blue, But oh! what those five feet could do.” In my twenties (before Skype and Facebook) my friend and I recorded our “letters” while she was stationed in the Philippines during her stint in the Peace Corps. I cherished getting those small, bubble envelopes in the mail every few months.
Recording memories has been a part of my life. Now I capture Paolo’s personality on “tape” using our iPad and laptop. A couple of years ago, I recorded him laughing while I tickled him. There’s no sound like it. On those tough days that happen to all of us, I open the file and play it on repeat until I’m giggling, too. A few months ago we recorded ourselves reading a favorite (Pete the Cat) picture book. We gave the recording and the picture book to my mom for Mother’s Day- her very own personalized audiobook. Over the last year I started interviewing Paolo. For Father’s Day, I interviewed him, asking him questions about his Grandfather and gave the recording to my Dad. This week, before he starts first grade, I’ll interview him about his interests now and what he thinks the coming school year holds.
Is my son always cooperative? No, but how he reacts, and cooperates (or doesn’t) captures who he is at that age. We’ll be glad to have these recordings years in the future. I often wish I would have started interviewing him much earlier.
So how do you preserve your child’s personality and voice?
First you’ll need something to record your child’s voice. I’m sure there are many advanced recording tools out there. I have no experience with those. I use simple ones like the sound recorder that came installed on my Dell laptop and the free, or very cheap, iTunes apps like QuickVoice Recorder and iTalk.
Next, look for opportunities to capture your child’s voice.
- Interview him or her before schools starts, on New Year’s Eve, and birthdays each year
- Pick an afternoon and subtlety start recording while you ask them about their day
- Record them laughing
- Have them interview one or all of their siblings, grandparents and other relatives
- Grab your copy of If (Questions for the Game of Life) and pick a few age appropriate ones
- Record your before bed ritual
- Interview them after an eventful day on vacation
- Interview them during or after an awful day
- Ask them to tell you what’s great and not so great about living where you live
Checkout my Pinterest Board Capturing Memories for ideas for specific questions.
Finally, make sure to back up your recordings! It’s excruciating to lose personal memories,whether it’s a printed photograph, a family video recording or a recording of your child’s voice. I back mine up on my cloud drive and our external hard drive.
We can’t capture every moment of our children’s lives, but we can grab slivers here and there. I wish I had more of those slivers from my childhood. What questions or conversations would you have captured from your childhood?