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Smile! You’re always on camera!

Submitted by on Monday, 28 June 2010 No Comment

Are you the photographer we hired, a woman asked at Big Guy’s school as I checked in during the final week.

No, I just carry enough gear to power a small television station, I said. His dad’s deployed.

She smiled knowingly. “Ah, yes. My husband was deployed when our daughter was 3, and I fear I forever warped her mind.”

Now, in the grand scheme of things this is not a huge worry. But I have to admit that it’s crossed my mind as well. Is my near-obsession with archiving everything from milestones to the mundane going to turn the guys into attention-craving little beasties? Will they grow up to demand their close-up at every event major and minor, whether it’s their day or not?

If it does, I have only myself to blame. I first stuck a camera in Big Guy’s face when he was only a few days old. What took me so long? He was a week early, and I didn’t have a hospital bag packed. When the contractions are five minutes apart, Canon isn’t the first word that comes to mind.

By the time he got old enough to do anything remotely interesting – five months or so – I’d bought a video camera and did monthly tapes for far-flung family. That lasted for about six months, ending when his first birthday party turned into an afternoon of ugliness punctuated by an endless stream of people criticizing everything from the decorations to the fact that I let him grab at the cake. I took a break from preserving for posterity.

I rarely picked up a camera for about year after that, until Boots came along. Digital technology had improved by leaps and bounds by then, so I bought a new camera – a creaky one by today’s standards, with a painful firewire transfer. It was game on again. Soccer games, holidays, preschool concerts, making coffee. I captured it all.

Those efforts pale to today’s all-out multimedia blitz. I’ll sneak up the stairs with the audio recorder to capture them bellowing Army marches in the bathtub. I record karate and swimming class on video. I create “this is your life” slide shows during the months of their birthdays, though neither has made everyone happy.

“Awwwwwww. You think he’s a beautiful boy?” Boots asked, protesting the song I selected for Big Guy’s salute. “Why can’t I be a beautiful boy?”

“Because I used ‘Sweet Child of Mine’ for yours,” I replied.

“So you don’t think I’m a sweet child?” Big Guy interjected.


And all the while I wonder if the constant attention, the excessive time under the strobe or at the mike, will have some long-range impact. Already, they clamor for me to get out the camera if they’re doing something cute. Would anyone like to see footage of Saturday’s rendition of “Kryptonite,” featuring vocals by Big Guy and Boots on the drums?

There is an up side. Hearing and seeing himself in high-definition stereo has convinced Big Guy that he does indeed squeal like a girl, though his new best friend takes offense at that description. “I’m a girl, and I don’t sound like that,” she said recently. Point well taken, and I’ve been trying to figure out every since exactly what it is he does squeal like. I’m still not sure, but I’m positive it’s a creature usually audible only to dogs.

And Big Guy’s public speaking skills are impressive for his age, because he’s so used to me pointing a camera and asking him to explain something for Daddy. His videography needs work, though. Even Big Guy admits that nostrils and shoe laces are not compelling footage.

Copyright 2010 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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