It's something that has been on my mind quite a bit. Somewhat serendipitously, I was recently reading a post by a fellow blogger (who's reflections on life and writing style I enjoy very much - and the food! This woman understand beautiful food!) and she shared a link to a TED talk given by one of my favorite food photographers, Penny De Los Santos. In the talk, Penny raises this exact point when she talks about setting down her camera to be with her dying mother at her bedside and make her one last bowl of homemade chicken soup before she dies. The talk is only about 12 minutes long, and worth checking out when you have the time. Penny's photography is stunning - she's the only photo contributor to Saveur magazine who's name I actually know - but more lovely yet is her view on life. She understands how to "savour life intensely" and that is something that I have deep admiration for.
Although I write about the dichotomy between capturing life and engaging in it this isnt' always my experience with my camera. Sometimes I see the world differently BECAUSE I have my camera there - I see the small details in things I might never have noticed otherwise. And without my camera today I would have missed this moment
or this one as he swallowed the felt sticker on the watering can that I had just told him not to eat.
Man that determination! And boy is he getting better every day at telling us exactly what he does and DOES NOT want. This past week in particular he has been such a wild child. Suddenly it's like his brain is firing on overdrive. Every night it has been taking him over an hour to fall asleep and he's been popping up at 5 am. Why? Why?! Especially on my first week of teaching when I've been up every night until midnight writing my lectures.
There is much sweetness in the mania - lots of full-on-mouth kisses and nuzzles, spontaneous bursts of joyful laughter and welcome hugs. But also, such defiance, such barnacle-ing. The best is when he does something he KNOWS is naughty, like throwing all his food off the tray and then afterwards shaking his head and scolding himself before I've even had a chance to open my mouth "No throwing, no throwing". That's right buddy, so why are you doing it?!
Yesterday was another 5 a.m. day and by 6 a.m. he was already whipping himself into a frenzy, running in circles, laughing like a crazed man one minute and then bursting into tears the next when I wouldn't let him play with a bottle of methialate. I know I've said this before, but he's really not a cryer. So when he has a total melt-down over something so tiny and random, I'm partly annoyed but on a much bigger level, greatly sympathetic because clearly something has got him feeling totally "wonky" as he likes to say.
After trying numerous distractions to no avail (every thing I suggested was met with a disdainful "All done" and a swat) I finally lay back on the kitchen floor and said "Mama's all done"). Joe, who had been washing dishes and not heard much of this interaction came over to see what all the fuss was about. He too, tried various strategies to cheer up the little man. Offering a walk - "All done outside!", singing the Elmo song - "All done, Elmo". The finale was when he hopped off Joe's lap, walked by an Ecology textbook on the coffee table, gave it a resounding slap and shouted out "All done, Book!". I know we shouldn't have burst out laughing at this point, but the whole scene was verging on comical. I guess this could be considered his first temper tantrum. And from a psychological perspective, well done, Taran. You are hitting all the developmental milestones nicely - asserting your independence, expressing your feelings. From a dead-tired parenting perspective....slightly less fantastic.
Jessikah found a great book at the library the other day that is so fitting for the mood around our house these days. The pictures are bright and beautiful, Taran loves it, and we love it too because it gives us a much needed smile during some of the more trying times.
In the moments where he is calm and snuggly, another family favorite lately has been this fantastic book that we stumbled upon at the Children's book store down the street.
In those moments at the end of the day, when he's finally allowing his body to melt into stillness, to melt into my own, I sit him on my lap, I breathe in the scent of his freshly washed hair and I remind him and myself how Full, Full, Full, of Love I am.