Sunday, February 1, 2009
My dad had a movie camera from the time I was around six years old. We have tons of old movies of us as children. We groaned every time he turned that glaring row of lights on, but I am so happy to have the recorded memories.
Yesterday I picked up eleven DVDs of my children when they were younger. Preschool, dance recitals, church musicals, elementary school events, backyard plays. Neighborhood parties, family birthdays, Christmas.
One of the most amazing things about these videos is that I DON'T REMEMBER HALF OF THE EVENTS! And I can't say it's because I was filming because in a good many of them there is a 120-pound woman who vaguely resembles me serving cupcakes. In fact in one of them I'm wearing a bathing suit that only fits my right thigh today.
Another thing that astounded me is that I was able to study my children through watching them on the videos in a way I didn't have the luxury of doing in real time. I saw them clamoring for attention, shying away from crowds, nervously awaiting their time on the dance floor, being polite, and interacting with their friends. I saw them working together and teasing each other good-naturedly.
We try to tell young parents to take time to be with their children. We try to impress upon them that the time flies and soon enough their kids are gone off to college and to the rest of their lives. But, buddies, that ain't going to happen. There's way too much going on. It's all a person can do to get through the day sometimes.
So take good movies. Not pictures--they're static and they don't show the transformative power of a smile on a three-year old's face, or the lip-biting of a young ballerina, or the glance at the camera from a little girl who spies her mother in the audience.
And don't just film the children in your life. Film your parents and your siblings and your aunts and uncles. There were faces and voices in those videos that haven't been a part of my life for a while, and it was extraordinary to be "with" them.
I laughed a lot yesterday, and I cried a little too. But I'm so thankful that I have these movies so I can remember.