Put The Camera Down And Enjoy Your Family

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mom taking selfie with babyI don’t take pictures. Before you think that I’m being judgy, please know that this is almost a billion percent due to me being lazy and not some greater agenda. But I do hope to convert other people to my abject laziness.

I remember the first time I felt bad for not taking pictures of my kid. It was when my daughter was three. I took her to a crappy playground not far from our apartment, with pebbles instead of that awesome rubber stuff and the kind of slides you can only find in Texas; about 120° F to the touch, melted on one side and cracked in the middle, so that your kid can have third degree burns AND an open wound for maximum summertime fun.

We abandoned the slide early on, and I opted to lurk beneath the rickety-ass bridge some Africanized bees had co-opted, reaching a hand up every once in awhile to grab her feet and growl about how I was a monster but I only wanted to eat little girls with curly blonde hair and glasses, did she know any? Eventually she escaped-squealing-to the slide, where I chased after her making rawr sounds and gnashing my teeth. I am an excellent teeth-gnasher. PM me for lessons.

Just as we were getting to the best part, the one where I caught her and “ate” her by nibbling on the most ticklish part of her ribs, we had to stop abruptly, because we got told.

Yeah. That kind of told.

Apparently we kept rushing in and out of this dad’s shot while he was trying to capture pictures of his daughter, who looked absolutely sick of his bullshit, as she slid haltingly down the aforementioned staph-infected slide contraption, inch by excruciating inch. Slide. Click. Slide. Click. Slide. Click.

When my daughter was born I didn’t even have a camera phone, and we couldn’t afford a digital camera. Eventually someone gave one to us second hand when they upgraded, but amid the chaos of fresh baby, it got buried in a drawer. I found it and vowed to take pictures, but I always forgot. I actually felt like a really craptastic mom for not documenting every little thing in her life.

Last year, I decided to change that. I brought my phone with me to the first day of school. Trick-or-Treating. My daughter’s theatrical debut as a frosted bunny in “Runaway Cookies”. To a karate belt ceremony. You want to know what all of those things have in common? Complete and utter suckitude. I couldn’t be in the moment; I had to line up the shot, make sure I wasn’t blocking anyone’s view, adjust the flash. I spent the entire time staring at the screen and not my kid. I don’t even really remember what was going on. Looking at those pictures and watching the videos is eery, because I don’t recognize anything. At least I’m not the only one; in my “Runaway Cookies” video, there’s the otherworldly glow of 22 other iPhone and iPad screens washing out the kids onstage. I wonder if any of us actually watched it.

Since then, I’ve given up. I’m all for taking a snap or two if there’s a particularly awesome candid waiting to happen, or a major life event, whatever that is at seven-years-old. Perhaps next year I will embrace my inner Texan and take a picture in bluebonnets, but beyond that? Doneskies.

I know there are people out there who are hobbyist or even professional photographers. They love taking pictures of their kids and they are kickass at it. I know that there is a shadowy subgroup out there who call themselves #momarazzi, and those people are probably high functioning narcissists. I am not addressing either right now.

Instead, I am turning to you other moms and dads out there who don’t really want to take pictures. All of you who feel guilty and pressured because everyone else is doing it, just like in middle school with the California Blackout game. All of you who would rather watch your kid suck at the trombone instead of film him doing it. Won’t you join me? Let’s stop taking pictures of our dumb kids, together.

Why would I continue to do something I hate? I have plenty of pictures that others have taken of my child, and now that she’s discovered how to take selfies, I have even more. But more precious than all of those to me is the clear as day memory of me on a July afternoon four years ago, when I finally caught the bespectacled, tow headed princess, nibbled her ribs, and soaked up all the hugs she could give me, which turned out to be an awful lot.

(Image: Martin Novak/Shutterstock)