Setting Sail

Early in my childrearing years I started writing down cute and funny things the girls would say and do. I have a well-worn green file marked “kids quotes” and have been putting notes and bits of paper in it for 15+ years. Likely inspired by Rosie O’Donnell’s 1997 book Kids Are Punny; Jokes Sent by Kids to the Rosie O’Donnell Show, I now have a treasure trove of my own.

With my firstborn off to college in less than 48 hours, I dedicate this post to her and to all the parents out there who are about to launch their babes. This is such a universal, collective, and expected rite of passage. It’s also a ginormous, highly personal, and emotionally charged experience (especially for the mamas).

Thank you for indulging me as I share a glimpse back.

Julia Tarheel

Calling for Julia around the house in a slow, singsongy voice (“Ju-lia…where are you?”) she would sing back, “Here me are.” (age 3)

On my birthday after I blew out the candles on my cake Julia said, “I bet I know what you wished for – that you’d be with us forever.” (age 5)


After being in preschool for just a few weeks in New York City, I greeted her after school one day with my commonplace “Hey, Tootsie!” She replied, “Mommy, hay is for horses not people.” (age 5)

When I was explaining that my friend Kate’s real name is Catherine, Julia replied, “Well, my real name is Toots.” (age 5)


Always the protective one of baby sister, I once overheard Julia say to Claire, “Don’t worry, Cwa-uh, I’m 3 ½. I can help you.”

“If Claire loses a tooth before me, I’m gonna just die in the grass.” (age 7)

“Mommy, are you going to have another baby?” asked Julia. I quickly replied, “No honey, why?” She said, “Because I really want a big brother.” (age 6)


Julia saw her dad watching a football game on TV and in response to his obvious exasperation she asked him, “Bad play?” (age 4)

When we told Julia we were moving to New York City for her daddy’s new job she squealed, “Thanks Dad! That’s where Cinderella lives!” (age 4)


When one of her kindergarten buddies said that drawing was boring, she turned to him and with conviction said, “Drawing is imaginable.” (age 5)

After once looking at a coffee table book together about famous artists like Renoir and Van Gogh, I explained to Julia that there were hundreds of other famous artists in the world. She replied, “And there’s gonna be one more when I grow up.” (age 5)


“I love you however many seashells are in the ocean,” said Julia. (age 4)

“I love you to the moon and back, beautiful girl,” I said. (age 47)

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