February 11, 2005

The Terrible Threes

Matthew turns three today. I'll skip most of the mushy stuff, but his age was put into perspective for me last night.

Last year, Miho and her friend Miki visited us, and videotaped a great deal of Matthew. To these girls' Asian sensibilities, I'm sure Matthew's blond hair and blue eyes and round face is something unusual, but they found him very cute, that's for sure. Otherwise, they wouldn't have taped 3 1/2 hours of material on him. Miho gave us the tape when she came over this year, and we watched it last night.

Matthew eating lunch in the food court (the whole meal). Matthew watching "My Neighbor Totoro". Matthew walking around Zoo Atlanta, pointing at animals. Then came the kicker: Matthew's 2nd birthday, almost in it's entirety. Everything from the singing of Happy Birthday to the opening of each present. It was an amazing thing to watch. We were so busy with the party itself that I didn't remember that the girls had taped it.

That is why we don't own a video camera. Sure, we miss the occasional cute situation, but we have a digital camera to capture nearly everything. I've found that a video camera brings you out of the moment so much that you don't really experience it the first time around. Case and point was a trip to DisneyWorld that we took with Craig & Heather (pre-Matthew). They were always arguing about who would hold it and if the person with the camera was getting what the other one wanted on tape. One of them was always experiencing the park solely through the viewfinder. They didn't enjoy themselves nearly as much as Mel and I did on that trip.

It goes doubly so with videos of children. I want to actually participate in my son's milestone activities, like birthday parties. I don't want to watch it from the sidelines, worrying about the lighting or prompting people to do something for the camera's sake. I prefer photographs to video anyway. Photos are points in a storyboard of an event, and you actively relay the underlying story to people instead of just pushing PLAY and sitting back. Anyway, that's my two cents.

Back to the video. Since they don't have children themselves, or see Matthew on a daily basis, each action was a wonder. Each word was hung upon, and even the times they had to tell him "NO" were laughed at. Being human, we tend to quickly take for granted things that happen every day. The sun coming up, gravity holding us down, the water currents of the ocean that keep our temperatures warm. We tend only to realize how much we need things until they are gone. So to Miho and Miki, I'm thankful for this video. With it, I have seen my son through others' eyes, and I can appreciate Matthew's childhood while he's still in it.

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