Life Inside the Lens
Enough clapping to qualify my hands as instruments.
About five minutes into a dance that tied all of these elements together, one thing was clear: Cooper, 5, and Milo, 2, were just not going to look at me.
To be fair, the cherry red truck pulling into the parking lot over my shoulder was a sweet piece of vehicular eye candy and much more interesting than dad attempting to snap photo No. 100 on the day.
I’ll get ‘em in the next round of photos 30 seconds from now.
My two kids are part of a generation who seem to live inside cameras. It was inevitable since we now have cameras that are built into just about everything.
Want a camera built into that toaster? I’m sure someone wants to capture that perfectly browned bread.
How about a camera built into the TV to capture yourself watching…well…the TV? Sure, I suppose staring contests can be interesting. I can’t wait to show off the dramatic footage to my friends.
Need a whole security system of cameras throughout the entire house that you can watch from your phone hundreds of miles away? There’s an app—or actually several—for that.
Sorry kids, there is nowhere to hide.
If social media was printed all out onto paper, I’m pretty sure I could recreate a flipbook of their entire lives up until this point.
And if the sheer volume of photos isn’t enough, social media is constantly reminding us of our short history of amateur photography via “on this date” reminders. This way, we can carefully document the anniversary of that grinning photo after buying a shirt at the mall.
You know…just in case we want to make a cake for the occasion.
It’s a volume business and firing away with the camera can ensure that all the blinked eyes, looks off camera and—as the column name may suggest—impromptu crazy facial expressions are not the final images we are left with.
Although, let’s be honest. The best way to get my kids to look at a camera for more than three seconds is to promise a few “goofy ones.” Life is best unserious anyways, but they take the cheesy, eyes-closed smile and stretched-cheeks-tongue-out expressions to another level.
Since we are now stepping into 2019 and it’s officially resolution season, I have two resolutions as they apply to my kids…
1. Take a lot of photos.
2. Stop taking so many photos.
I know the two resolutions seem like total opposites, but allow me to explain.
Being happily surrounded by photos will provide a wealth of family history for generations.
Yes, I point and shoot repeatedly, because the end result is countless memories to take with us forever. Sure, it will expedite carpel tunnel, but giving my kids this history of our family years from now is priceless.
As for resolution #2, it’s more about dependency. As much as documenting every little milestone is partially about capturing the moments, I find myself missing things.
Exhibit A: My favorite moment of 2018.
Cooper has had asthma and other breathing issues to contend with for most of his life. He’s been taught and reminded on several occasions to stop and just take a few very deep, healthy breaths in and out to combat any brief flirtations with an episode.
My wife and I would look him squarely in the eyes, hands on both shoulders and instruct him, “Cooper, deep breaths.”
It almost always does the trick.
As Cooper’s resident shadow, Milo has taken to emulating big brother’s every movement and expression. Earlier this fall, Milo began crying uncontrollably while sitting on my bed for a reason I still have no idea.
Wanted more juice? Not enough toys within his short reach?
Something very political for a two-year-old, I’m sure.
Regardless, his cries were so quick and powerful that Cooper took notice. Sitting beside his little brother, Cooper looked Milo square in the eyes, hand on his right shoulder, and began telling him, “Milo. Deep breaths.”
Milo responded in kind…
The whole moment took about 10-15 seconds, but framed itself in my mind like a Norman Rockwell painting. Here was big brother, sitting in the darkened room, giving all of his attention to little brother to calm down and do the simplest of things: just breathe.
There was a part of me that wanted to grab my phone from my pocket and start recording the loving gesture. And yes, recording a crying child is not exactly a father-of-the-year move, but Cooper’s actions struck me proud.
I’m glad I didn’t.
Instead, I took in the moment with my wife, who stood there beaming as well. The moment went into the memory banks. Fair to say, it will be stored there longer than any thumb drive.
And had I fumbled with my phone to set up the photo, I would have had my head down, missing the entire touching moment of one brother pulling the other from the brink of chaos.
Here’s to hoping 2019 is filled with amazing moments for you and your family, too. Happy hunting with that toaster camera of yours, but be sure to make time for the here and now that no lens could possibly capture.
Josh Farnsworth is a husband, father of goofballs Cooper and Milo, goofball himself, and award-winning writer and columnist living in Worcester. He can be reached for column ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.