This is also what mom feels on the inside being the parent of a two year old. Sometimes I just want to sit on the sidewalk and throw a tantrum, too.
I posted this picture over the weekend, and I realized the power of visual images to spark conversation. Mari’s husband asked me why I had posted it, and after I clarified that it was Potamus (and not somehow a picture of me), I was struck with the thought that I often put things out into the world (writing, photos, words) that have a definite meaning to me, but may be misinterpreted or misunderstood by others. Or maybe there’s room for both my interpretation and someone else’s experience of my image to both be true and right at the same time.
It made me think of poetry, and how I loved the college classes where I had to buckle down and analyze a few lines of poetry, trying to figure out the word choice and how it intersected with history and the author’s life. And yet, when I write my own poetry, I am hardly so careful as to make sure I choose the word eggshell vs. white in describing that lady’s shirt. Though sometimes I am that careful, but how does the reader/listener know my intention fully when they bring their own thougths, life experience, emotions to the table?
The conversation about my child’s image, which I had taken in a moment of pure love, noticing that tiny little mole that dotted his neck (in contrast to the many moles that are all over Boof), my mind wandered to the thought that this is how I one day could identify his body if he were to die tragically. Maybe it was morbid, or practical, we argued a bit about it, but the exchange clearly showed different perspectives, neither right or wrong. I looked at that “morbid” detail of identifying a body by a little birthmark from a future-nostalgic motherhood place, the remembrance of his less-baby-more-little-man stillness as he sat on my lap in the sunshine watching TV and I stroked his little curls that look like mine did at that age. I don’t know what prompted him to comment on this particular picture (of the thousands I’ve posted), but I’m glad he did, because the dialogue and thought process made me take a tiny moment and examine it in light of all the things I do online (or in person, too).
It makes me wonder about every picture I post or text and the story that’s being told on the receiving end, or the intercepting end, or when you turn to your neighbor and say “hey look at this.” Maybe it’s my arrogance, or self absorbed way of living, but I often think that the way I intend a picture to be interpreted will be how it’s interpreted. But like the lines of poetry that I analyzed in college, we bring our own biases toward it, and meaning may be lost or changed or questioned, and it’s really a neat process if you think about it.
After college I took a communication class that detailed how miscommunications can form, and as she diagrammed Speaker A putting words into the universe, and Speaker/Listener B hearing and interpreting the word, it struck me that it’s really a miracle any of us can communicate effectively. Even recently in conversations with Boof, I said a word, that to me has a ‘standard definition,’ and we clearly were talking about different things, from different perspectives based on our gender, age, life experience, etc. It’s a really remarkable process to sit and sift and be vulnerable to get to the point where understanding occured.
That one image sparked a thousand words, a thousand questions. I might have posted it and forgotten about it, like I’ve done with the thousands of other images. But the dialogue brought me back, and almost like a meditation drishti point, I will think of that moment I thought how beautiful my child was, and how sad I would be to have to identify his body by that tiny little mole.
I hitched Potamus onto one hip and entered the door code early yesterday morning. We were running late because of the rain and traffic, and Potamus was dawdling in the parking lot wanting “up, up!” instead of splashing through the puddles like he normally does. I set him on the counter inside, signed him in, and was cheerfully accosted by the daycare director holding out a packet from Lil’ Buckaroos photography.
I had seen the signs for the past few weeks, about the pony ride and pictures happening, but assumed it was something that parents had to opt in to participate. Not needing pony pictures with my kidlet, I just ignored all the paperwork. But there it was, in my hand, 7 prints, of my son on the back of a pony, dressed in cowboy gear, and the instructions to pay $25 within a week, order prints online, or return the proofs to the office.
How could I return such adorably overpriced western posed pictures with my one and only? He looked so cute perched on Dakota the pony, tipping his hat, and staring moodily into the camera. I’m a sucker for photos, anyway, and so I ponied up (pun intended) the $25 to pay for the proofs. I won’t even go online to see the package options, because I might end up spending his entire college fund on pony pictures.
But it made me laugh, because it was the best marketing strategy ever. How many parents are going to return the already printed photos of their adorable children riding ponies? I’m guessing not many. The strategy worked, though if it had been something else besides pony pictures, I might have been legitamtely mad. Or if I had an aversion to ponies and felt like I should have been given the option to give permission for my son to ride atop those sometimes vicious little creatures.
I came home and showed Boof the pictures, and he agreed they were cute. Though his heartstrings are not tugged nearly as much as mine, though he loved the idea of giving one of them to his dad for Father’s Day, because Potamus is in love with his “Buppa” and they do manly cowboy things together, like tromp through yard with tools, and I think he’ll love the picture. And who wouldn’t, because my child is adorable, ammirite?
Having a toddler is much harder than having an infant, especially in the picture taking department. I take so many more photos that have a distinct blur from his movements. Though I’ve just now figured out that he will say “cheese” for photos and will result in a sorta smile on his end.
But we were out in the park the other night, to eat pizza and Doritos with friends, and to enjoy the Seattle sunshine. I managed to capture a few photos that really capture his personality. Like his fearlessness, as he launched himself off the platform and then hung there on the bars. I was far enough away to not be a helicopter parent, but was keeping a keen eye on him. I managed enough time to take this picture, mostly to teach him that sometimes being a daredevil means not getting rescued right away 🙂 He was no worse for wear, despite the side-eye I was getting from some lame brained parents who hover ridiculously around their offspring.
He’s a good eater, for everyone but me. Friend Mari brought raspberries, and he gobbled them up. I buy raspberries and he looks like I’m making him eat poop laced garbage.
There really are no words for this last one. His expression is just hilarious here. I’m not sure exactly what he’s trying to tell me…
Look at that face, it says it all! My boy is two and he’s clearly annoyed with mama’s antics. Though the mood swings go the other way, too, and we find ourselves giggling in bed at night before he finally nestles down to sleep. It’s only been two weeks, but I’m amazed at how smoothly weaning went. There are times I still find myself reaching to flop my boob out, but I haven’t, and it’s all just seemed so easy that I could pinch myself. This is why I kept my goal in mind over the summer, when I was having a rough patch, because ending easily for both of is was totally worth it!
I’m really enjoying the “terrible twos,” though tantrums aren’t very fun, it is neat to see how he’s asserting his independence and asking for things. Today on our walk he ran twenty five feet ahead of me and then turned to look where I was. Or how when we passed a dead end, he turned to go down that street and waved ‘bye bye’ to me and blew me a kiss before giggling and running back to me. He’s funny most of the time, and can be easily distracted from a tantrum when I let go of my expectations and do something silly, too.
I’ve really enjoyed Winter Break, but truthfully I am looking forward to the exhaustion of a normal schedule. Not having any predictability to speak of for the better part of two weeks has begun to wear on me. Sure I don’t like getting up at 6am knowing I HAVE to be out the door by 7 to get to work, but at least it’s consistent, ya know?