Sunday, June 24, 2012

Wild Child

It's been a slow week on picture taking - I guess I've been busy just living. Since getting my new camera and starting this blog, I've found myself sometimes so absorbed in trying to document a moment  I'm not actually participating in it.

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.


  1. Rebecca:
    1. Thanks so much for mentioning me and my blog-- that was such a sweet surprise for me to find this morning!
    2. I got chills again as you quoted Penny about setting down her camera for certain moments, and making soup for her dying mother. I pretty much cry through most of the talk each time I watch it.
    3. I really, really love that picture of your sweet son playing in the water, with the light reflected onto his face.
    4. The need to engage life on regular terms, and not through a camera lens is really important. There are times when we need to just be there, not trying to capture anything. That said, I also agree that using a camera does help me see life a little differently-- the moments and beautiful details I might not have my eye out for otherwise, and in that way photography does make my life much better, sweeter, and prettier!

    1. Ariana, I'm so happy to point people in your direction, because I enjoy your blog so much myself! And I definitely relate to what you say about crying when watching the video. I cried just telling me husband about the video - which he also really enjoyed by the way.
      The picture of Taran playing in the water was just a lucky shot with a decent camera, but I'm so glad to have it.

  2. Absolutely love that photograph of Taran with the water droplets frozen mid-air and the light shining on his face - what a lovely, lovely capture! You are talented lady!!! Everything about that photo is just perfect :)And I love reading about your sweet, silly boy. He seems to have such a delightful personality and I love that you acknowledge that when he does break down over a seemingly small and inconsequential thing that it is because for him it does have meaning. It is so easy to overlook these small things as nothing much but for whatever reason it has resonated with him. So I just love that you get and appreciate that. I think it is part of seeing someone, a child, as being so fully human and not as just a kid - do you know what I mean?

    1. Marisa,
      I remember once wondering when looking at Sarah's pictures how she decides which ones to make black and white. I've tried with a few and felt like it added nothing to the photo. But when I saw the way the light was playing off his face, I got it. In B & W you really see the contrast of light which I love. I reeeeally need to take a photography class so I can learn more/anything.
      Your words are always of full of joy and sunshine, I feel happy reading them. And yes, Taran is a sweet and silly boy and I just love that. We have some very close family friends and I as people worth listening to no matter our age and that meant A LOT to me growing up. I guess it left an indelible mark because I try to do the same with my son. So yes! I know exactly what you ean.

    2. Ah - you are way to kind!! That makes me feel really good that my words make you feel happy - what a lovely compliment! One of the nicest compliments anyone has ever paid me :)

      You know when I like black and white? I really like it best in portrait photography. There is something about the lack of color that really lets you see into someone - I feel like you get more of a glimpse into their soul. It is almost as if all the color is a distraction and the b & w narrows or focuses your attention onto the person and you really *see* them. Do you know what I mean? I've felt this way for a very long time actually. I remember seeing some black and white photos of children way back when I was a teenager (in Victoria magazine) and it really struck me then and it has stuck with me all these years. :)

  3. The top photo is just gorgeous! I love the reflection of light in his face. Good job capturing it.

    1. Thanks shelly. That means a lot coming from the source. I've been scouring your website since discovering it last week after you posted the cherry picture on Sarah's blog. Amazing work! I'm really looking forward to having some free time to read some of your photography tips more in depth.