Friday, July 25, 2014

The Toddler Selfie

Like it or not, we live in the age of the selfie. Photos have lost much of what they once carried with them.   Long gone are the days where you’d take your time to snap 27 or so photos, seal it in the envelope (don’t forget to order doubles for Grandma!), and drop it in the box so the magical photo fairies could make them in to glossy 4x6s of all your family and friends. 

I remember so many moments spent in the electronic aisle at Walmart, hunched over the photos in my mom’s hand, laughing, cringing, and lamenting over the photos that were returned to us:

 “Oh, how I wish the lighting would be better in that one!” 

“Ugh!  My eyes are closed!” 

“Burn that one!  Burn it right now!” 

As a teenager, one-hour photo became my new addiction.  I dropped off my disposable camera, full of what I was sure were the best moments of my life:  the homecoming game, prom, and the nights spent just doing nothing out in the middle of nowhere.  My friends and I would wander around the store, counting down the minutes until we could  finally see what we captured in those endless nights.

But today?  Today, w e can snap a photo and instantly see exactly what we have.  Your eyes are closed?  Redo it!  The kid’s screaming/picking his nose/running out of the frame?  Redo it!  A hair is out of place?  Redo it!  We often refuse to settle for less than perfection, though our bodies are lives are far from it.  Photos are easy to take, and cameras are everywhere.  On our phones, our tablets, and on the kid’s toys.  There’s no escaping the constant photos.  Thankfully, they’re just as easy to delete as they are to take. 

Henry, like so many other kids, loves gadgets.  He’s always taking my phone to play Angry Birds (“That Birds Crashing Game”) or to get in a precious few moments of Super Why on Netflix.  Somehow, he never fails to get to the camera and snap a few (dozen) photos of himself making funny faces and of his surroundings.  When I find them on my phone later, I cringe.  Our house is a mess, his face is a mess, and oh God, do I really look like that?  Why didn’t some one tell me???  He doesn’t take the time to pose perfectly, to move that stray toy out of the frame, or tell me to throw on a cardigan for heaven’s sake.  The photos he takes are the opposite of the modern day selfie:  unrehearsed, candid, and real.  This is what we really look like to him, and these are the moments he’s remembering.  

The thing we have to remember is that we’re not perfect.  None of us are.  We do the best we can do every day, and some days our best is better than other days.  So keep a few of those “not so perfect” photos, too, and try to realize that even on your worst days, some one thinks you’re worth remembering.

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