What children say

More of you than ever - 800, to be almost exact - joined in the latest Home Forum Competition. From parents and grandparents to brothers, sisters, and friends - everyone seems to recall a delightful example of ''what children say.''

Often your examples were no less delightful for being too long (more than 25 of the child's words), too late (received after April 5), or too many (more than one per entrant) to be considered for award certificates. Soon some general categories emerged, and within them we tried to make choices for reasons other than simple mistakes in pronunciation or use of words, humorous as these can be. We also tilted toward lines that did not depend on detailed or unusual scene setting. Sometimes ''you had to be there,'' as a girl we know used to say when finding it hard to convey the full hilarity of an episode away from home. But the net effect was heart speaking to heart, funny bone to funny bone.

Thanks to everyone for taking us into your kitchens, schools, Sunday schools, nurseries, baths, cars - anywhere, it seemed, that the voice of children could be heard in the land. We have to award more certificates than usual: to the entries printed today, tomorrow, May 2, and May 10. We have freely edited the quoters' words but not the children's. Hugs, etc.

Five-year-old Nicholas took a crying schoolmate's hand, looked kindly into her eyes and said, ''You have the most beautiful telephone number.'' The showers stopped. - Sally A. Booth, Palo Alto, Calif.

Christine, 7, came home in tears, explaining that ''Kathy said she hates my guts.'' Sister Janet, 2, put her arms around her and said, ''That's OK, Christine, I love your guts.'' - Emily Hinkel, North Canton, Ohio

A niece, 5, was reprimanded for speaking to a stranger. ''But, Auntie J., I loves all-a-bodys.'' - Mrs. C. Catt, Kokomo, Ind.

Love speaks in many voices. A five-year-old friend, Sena, put it this way. ''Whitlock, if you die I'll bury you - in my yard.'' - Eleanor Whitlock, Indianapolis

''Is Daddy handsome?'' asked Elizabeth, 10. ''What do you think?'' ''I can't tell. I don't know. I love him too much.'' - Lilia Skala, Elmhurst, N.Y.

Lyndon, 2 1/2, was asked if he had hugged a new baby at the home of his care giver. ''No, I didn't hug her, Mommy. I petted her, though.'' - Sheila Fendall, Calgary, Alberta

Sharon, a new kindergartner, was sliding quickly from child to child. ''I have so many friends I don't know yet.'' - Sarah A. Presher, Oakland, Calif.

Paul, 5, got a hug from his two-year-old sister. ''She gave me some of her warmth, and I gave her some of my coldth.'' - Barbara Stimers, Spokane, Wash.

Said four-year-old Saniya: ''You know, Chas, you and I have always been friends, even before we were born, when the Indians were here.'' - Chas Burgdorff, Princeton, N.J.

A teacher at pre-school asked Kristi, 4 1/2, why she continued to play with a girl who seemed undisciplined and threatening. ''I see good in her.'' - William K. and Karen S. Batchelor, Bellevue, Neb. Grandparents

Grandmother feigned sleep in hopes Laurie, 2, would nap, but Laurie gently touched her eyelid. ''Are you in there, Gramma?'' - Darlene Young, Lake San Marcos, Calif.

''I can't read this,'' said the widow overcome by sympathy cards. Rebecca, 4, patted her. ''That's all right, Granny. Don't cry. I can't read, either.'' - Rheba Davis, Durham, N.C.

Tanner, 4, wiped off the dab of cream his grandmother playfully put on his face as he watched her clean hers. ''Oh, Nana, I don't want to look any younger!'' - Geraldine Loucks, Tulsa, Okla.

Jeanean, 4, climbed near her great-grandfather, 95. ''You'll always be my grandpa, won't you, even when you get old?'' - Dawn E. Wright, Crystal, Mich.

Ryan, not quite 4, made a sudden observation. ''Grandma, I will still love you when I'm an old man and you've been dead a long time.'' - Norma S. Marshall, Hillsborough, N.C.

At the end of a game the three-year-old was told, ''Joey, you won!'' ''But, Grandma, you did remarkably.'' - Olive M. Lawrence, Durham, N.H.

Erica, 3, called from the other room. ''Grandma, why don't you come put your lap under me so I can reach this typewriter?'' - Mrs. Norman Brewster, Three Lakes, Wis.

''I need a little boy just like you,'' I said. ''Then I will give me you,'' said my three-year-old grandson. - Rose Marie Martin, Edmond, Okla.

Lisa, 8, observing me closely, remarked, ''You're a very unusual grandmother.'' I preened, waiting. ''You're so very little (five-two) to be so very old.'' - Felice Paramore, Los Angeles

Matthew David, 4, watched his grandmother apply makeup. ''You sure need a lot of things to make you look darling, Nana.'' - Carol Myers, Glendale, Calif.

Was grandmother too heavy for Jen to keep pedaling her on the tricycle. ''Yes , you're like a thick shake at McDonald's.'' - Marjorie E. Taylor, Huntington, N.Y.

The boy, 3 or 4, rebounded after grandfather's reprimand. ''My daddy is taller than you, and he's newer, too.'' - Lurene Dobell, Walnut Creek, Calif.

Diana, 3, threw her arms about grandfather's neck. ''Don't we love we!'' - Lucy C. Karwell, Camden, Maine Contemporaries

Rachel was overheard talking to a much younger cousin. ''You've got to remember, Chrissie, that you're not a baby anymore - you're a little kid.'' - Hildegarde Kampfe, Dayton, Ohio

Owen, 7, watches his brother, 11 months, who is learning to walk. ''There goes a wandering mishap.'' - Colin B. Blakemore, Wilmington, Del.

Morgan, 7, told a preschooler friend she was about to begin sex education. ''Oh,'' said the impressed child, ''what do you have to wear?'' - Mrs. Robert C. Kunz, Huntington Beach, Calif.

Nancy, 4, was awakened from a nap by her two-year-old brother crawling on the bed. ''Somebody stepped on my hair with the permanent in it!'' - Winton W. Fox, Fort Dodge, Iowa

Amanda, 7, who had been taught to make positive comments instead of complaining, complimented her brother's first effort to make salad. ''The colors are so bright and cheery, Daniel.'' - Caroll Lee, Corvallis, Ore.

Beth, 4, announced the new baby at Sunday school. ''I'm a sister.'' - Eva McCrossin, Milwaukee

On Doug's fourth birthday he turned to his younger brother. ''Now, Phil, you can have the three.'' - Helen Parnell, Metairie, La.

Jeff, 5, struggled in vain to button his twin sister into her winter coat. ''She's too tight of a girl!'' - Jane W. Hastings, Northbrook, Ill.

Terry, 10: ''Tell Dad it is going to be 60 degrees on Thursday.'' Carli, 7: ''What's 60 degrees mean?'' Terry: ''That's 20 degrees below swimming.'' - Nina Segelson, New Kensington, Pa.

Older sister to three-year-old: ''You are a funny little thing.'' ''Yes, I know, but I'm used to myself.'' - Wilma Morling, Watsonville, Calif.

Todd, 4, had been looking for his little sister. ''Ellen's disappeared. Now we gotta buy a dog.'' - Betty E. Smith, Omaha, Neb.

A seven-year-old living in college housing for foreign students and their families spoke up for the new baby (four months). ''She speaks in all languages.'' - Janis Fairall, Phoenix, Ariz.

David, 9, to brother Robin, 6: ''If you don't do whatever I tell you to do then you can't be my slave.'' - Rosalie Bookston, Seattle

Josh, 3, was told he wouldn't be the baby anymore, because a new baby was coming. ''Does that mean I have to move out?'' - Carol Lee, Lorain, Ohio

''Can we come in and color?'' asked Bridget, 5, at the door with her brother, 2. ''Can he color?'' ''Do you mind if he scribbles?'' - Winifred Tonnesen, Long Beach, Calif.

Bradley, 6, spoke scornfully of his little playmate. ''Kent always says itty-bitty when something is teeny-weeny!'' - Nancy Jarrell, Cookeville, Tenn.

Cody, 7, has good reason for friendships with the younger set. ''The torture from a 2 1/2-year-old doesn't amount to much more than drooling.'' - Mrs. Frank Soltesz, Spring Branch, Texas

John, 8, explains sister, 6, to guests. ''Everything that comes into her head comes out of her mouth.'' - Mrs. R. H. L. Slater, Magog, Quebec

The three-year-old, whose mother was expecting a third child, was asked if he wanted a brother or a sister. ''Could it be a tiger?'' - B. Holly Higgins, Ashland, Ore.

Kathie, 3, saw her baby brother for the first time. ''He looks just like Daddy, only a little bit smaller.'' - Adelaide T. Rosenthal, Alexandria, Va.

Earl was taunted by the older children on his first day at school. ''You cried this morning, didn't you?'' ''Yes, that's the way with lots of little children.'' - T. V. Anderson, Evanston, Ill.

''I'm not going to marry Lynne, that's what!'' my first-grader announced out of the blue. ''Why not?'' ''Because she won't let me use her eraser.'' - Connie Rose, Santa Barbara, Calif.

Accused by an offended classmate, five-year-old Aaron beamed. ''I wasn't pushing him, teacher. I was just helping him out of my way.'' - Patricia L. Wilkin, Oxford, Ohio Sundays - and every day

Guy interrupted the saying of his nightly prayers: ''Mom, would it be all right for me to thank God tonight for the wonderful time I'm going to have tomorrow?'' - Helen M. Palmer, Newport Beach, Calif.

''Mama, are we going to the school picnic tomorrow?'' asked Paul, 4. ''If the Lord spares us - yes.'' ''And if the Lord doesn't spare us, I'll ride my tricycle.'' - Mrs. E.A. Gordon, Seattle.

Zachary, who had just started Sunday school two weeks before, was asked if he wanted to go again. ''Yes, I don't want them to miss me.'' - Mrs. Robert Rothermel, Denver, Pa.

Said Jennifer, 5: ''God doesn't speak - right, Daddy? He just gives directions.'' - James Blair, Chicago

''Susie, are you cogitating?'' ''Yes, I am. I was thinking if we all came from one father, all of us, everybody are brothers and sisters.'' - Dorothy A.J. Woodruff, Delray Beach, Fla.

After attending Sunday school briefly, five-year-old Kenneth heard his mother say the family was poor. ''We are not poor, Mother. We are rich in love.'' - Helen B. Holland, Sepulveda, Calif.

A group of small, wiggling Sunday school boys was asked what it meant to be still. One became quiet and replied: ''To be still means don't move (more quiet thoughtfulness) your thought off of God.'' - Lewis Hubner, Altadena, Calif.

As mother and older son were huddling across the room, Christopher, 6, asked: ''What are you wizards peeping and muttering about?'' - Marjorie Darling, Kansas City, Mo.

Andrew, 5, was asked by his Sunday school teacher to define an important word. ''Peace is like petting a bunny rabbit's fur.'' - Janet Walker, Louisville, Ky.

After gentle scoldings for making noise during several church meetings, David shouted triumphantly, ''Mama! Did you hear me be quiet?!'' - Marion L. Martin, Santa Barbara, Calif.

A four-year-old was asked where she was going for Christmas. ''We are not going anywhere. Christmas is coming to our house.'' - Olive M. Nix, St. Petersburg, Fla.

Mary, 6, hearing her mother talk long distance to her grandmother: ''Tell Nana two words - think God.'' - Mrs. Campbell Brown, Huntington, W. Va. Birds and beasts

The four-year-old was asked about a mark on his hand. ''I scratched it on a cat.'' - Lillie Young, Kansas City, Mo.

Juliana, 3, giggled when a new neighbor asked if her big Alaskan husky was a watchdog. ''No, he doesn't have a watch. He's just my dog, Kelly.'' - Trudy Spicer, Mesa, Ariz.

Why did the 21/2-year-old say he was building a castle for flies with his blocks? ''Well, if the flies had someplace of their own to go, maybe they wouldn't bother us at the dinner table.'' - Steven Hessler, Toledo, Ohio

What did the four-year-old like best at the zoo? ''I liked the thnakth betht - they cuddle tho cothily.'' - Margaret B. Leavitt, Wellesley, Mass.

Pre-schooler Susan faced a grunting, 500-pound boar at a livestock show. ''Dawdy, that hoggie honked at me!'' - Robert Kern Mansur, Boston

Four-year-old Jodie's dog passed on. ''It's OK, we can still see Punki in our heart.'' - Pieter and Renee Van Niel, Rolling Hills Estates, Calif.

The five-year-old promptly addressed the large dog her grandma told her not to hug because the dog did not know her. ''Hi! My name is Wimberly Jeane!'' - Jeane L. Teller, Germantown, Tenn.

Two-year-old Kelsy piped up after four-year-old Kyle was told that the fish hatchery's gas pump was for fueling cars and trucks. ''And some fish swim!'' - Mil Glaser, Chesterfield, Mo.

After Jennifer, 3, was stung she was being comforted with words about bees being good little creatures that make honey for us. ''But he's making honey out of me!'' - Evelyn Radcliffe, Palo Alto, Calif.

Beth, 3, tearfully told her dad, ''A bee stang me.'' ''Oh, I'm sorry, was it a yellow jacket?'' ''No, he didn't have anything on.'' - Betty Hausrath, Waynesboro, Va.

It was before dawn at calf-weaning time and everyone hoped the animals wouldn't start their chorus and wake the three-year-old. ''Berry quiet cows, Mom!'' - Jane S. Schweitzer, Oakland, Calif.

Shortly after turning 5, Stephen came in from a Mayfly-infested backyard. ''Those bugs are eating me alive - I'm back to four years old again!'' - Joyce H. Kniffen, Lexington, Ky.

''What does C-A-T spell?'' the kindergartner was asked. ''Cat.'' ''And what does A-T spell?'' ''Part of a cat.'' - Marcella Christiansen, Patchogue, N.Y.

David, 4, spoke to his mother after the family cat was buried. ''We can still love Winky after she's dead and we can think about her in her aliveness.'' - Anne Galli, Winchester, Mass.

All the children in the school next door liked our dog. One Saturday we looked down at a round-faced youngster who was hardly tall enough to reach the bell. ''Can Tammy come out to play?'' - John W. Lagsdin, Ellsworth, Maine

Note: tomorrow's Home Forum Competition certificate recipients will be in the ''what children say'' category of ''Minor poets.''

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