Thursday, September 24, 2009

Off Camera

I often struggle when writing about my young kids because I want to perfectly describe them with poetic words and beautiful phrases. I feel like they deserve the likes of Beatrix Potter story-booking their childhoods. But I write about them anyway because I’ve yet to have the video camera rolling when Maggie says that hilarious one-liner, and the last time I went to snap a spontaneous photo of Magson pursing his bird lips at the bitter taste of Granny apples, my battery was dead. Plus, I’m always relieved when I get their childhood moments spelled out.

It shouldn’t be that hard; I love to write, and I inhale the fresh delights of having children daily—minus tantrums and whining. (At those times I exhale wearily.) Still, always, I want to remember it all. I want to memorize what they smell like when they come inside from summer play, their skin sun-screened and dirt-caked. I want to recall their little voices, like when for about two weeks straight, Magson and I had the same conversation all day long:

“Maaaa?”
“What, Handsome?”
“Ajick ajick ajick a la CAH.”
“I know, you’re always talking about cars, aren’t you?”
“Yeah. --Maaaa?”
“What, baby boy?”
“Ajick ajick ajick a la Ca-AAH.”
“I know.”

I savored that dialogue like a hidden stash of chocolate, but just this week our ritual conversation morphed. He’s still talking about cars (cahs) a lot, but those other particular jabbers have been replaced with different baby chatter, and I miss them.

A few weeks ago, Maggie wanted to go shopping with one tutu around her shoulders and two around her waist, her neck wrapped in an array of beads and her hair in a tangled net of every hair clip she owns. It was definitely a picture moment, her little body drowning in tulle, but my memory card was full and we were in a hurry to be out the door.

And then there are the moments when my camera, dead or alive, simply isn't there. As the kids and I were cleaning Maggie's room yesterday, we found all sorts of treasures as we sorted through the mess. One of them was a candy bracelet she'd bought with her piggy bank money at The Candy Shoppe downtown. She recovered her find and then presented it to me with such girly glee, I couldn’t help but get a little thrilled, too. But the excitement quickly faded as I realized she was now a distracted and handicapped cleaner with her wrist glued to her mouth. I was about to get after her, but was proud of myself for biting my tongue and letting her enjoy the treat.

I could hold back no longer, however, when Magson spotted the bracelet. I knew I was in for full-blown flailing and bashing on his end and a flood of tears on hers. I sighed as things were definitely headed in that direction. I did my robotic sweet voice and said, “No, no, Magson, that’s Maggie's.”

Then, just as I braced for the worst, things took a shocking turn. It was quietly spoken, so I didn’t catch it at first, but Maggie said, “It’s okay, Mom, Magson can have the bracelet.”

“No, no, Magson," I said again. "It’s Maggie's bracelet. Maybe she’ll--”

I stopped mid-sentence--frozen. Did she just say he could "have the bracelet?"

“No, Mommy!” she said much louder. “It’s okay, Magson can have the bracelet!”

As I praised her for being so selfless, I realized that I wanted to hit replay and watch that over and over again. It’s not like she never shares, but it shocked me that she would completely give away something so cherished. You can’t capture those moments on film, so in proud momma fashion, I had to write it down.

This morning I looked up from my notebook to check on the kids playing in the bathtub. I didn’t see Magson right away and so I craned my neck to look higher. There he was, his backside toward me. He was perfectly posed in the nude on the ledge of the tub and looking out the window. You can’t fetch the camera when your baby is perched in danger, cute as it was. So here’s what I want to remember: bubbly bum, dark russet legs, one foot twisted behind the other, and yummy, clean, squishy skin.

Now I’ll never forget.

14 comments:

  1. beautifully written... and you know it doesn't have to be an official poem to be poetry from the mama's heart!

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  2. With your well written words, I don't need a picture. Give them both a kiss from me.

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  3. Thanks for taking the time to compose a beautiful "picture" from words. It's true that you just can't capture everything with a camera. That's why I blog. I want to get as much of it recorded as possible. But, you rekindled in me the magic that words can bring. I need to work on that and try to make better use of my words when i write. It's just about as good as taking a picture, sometimes maybe even better! You have a great talent for writing AND taking pictures!

    BTW I found out my sis, Kim is having a GIRL! She's just starting to show, but is way up in Seattle and isn't coming home to Idaho until Christmas! She'll be almost ready to deliver then. Maybe if you could squeeze her in a photo session, I'd get to see more of her pregnant self before then. Just a thought. If it's okay,email me and I'll have her call you.

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  4. Just yesterday, my youngest asked me to put her drink in the cupholder of her carseat. It gave me such a pang, because for the longest time she called it the "holdcupper." It's very good to record these memories, and you do it very well.

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  5. you always make me appreciate my children all the more, i don't see the world in beautiful words but through a lens, but after reading this i WISH for the sake of my forgetting ALL the details that i were better about recording my thoughts about my special little men. too bad you couldn't hire someone to do that like choosing a photographer :)!! can i hire you to write about my family? :)!!

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  6. Beautifully written! I know I have felt the same way about my kids. I need to write it down, especially for those times when all I hear are whines or arguments and all I see is mess and fighting. Thanks for reminding me!

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  7. You write as beautifully--if not more beautifully--as a picture. I could perfectly see what you were describing, and your words made it even more wonderful. You are such a great mom!

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  8. Great writing Marie! (my comment is such an understatement!)

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  9. I love hearing about your kids! Well written!

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  10. Aw Mag! So sweet! I share the same sentiment as Shannon - I wish I could hire you to write about my family.

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  11. you know as much as you talk about wishing to write in a way that is poetic and interesting to read...you sure do an excellent job at it!! It is always such a thrill to read your posts!

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  12. What a sweet and very poetic post about your beautiful children! I love moments such as those. thanks for sharing them.

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  13. Very sweet. Isn't it great how loving big sisters can be to the baby brothers when they want to be?!

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  14. thanks (again) for sharing your talents with us - I could see it all perfectly! You amaze me with your writings and the way you are such a good mom~!

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