Annals of Parenting

Of my three sons, Mathew—who is five—has the most interest in the mechanics of photography. He wants to know how lenses fit on the camera, what lens is used to photograph which subject, and how the camera fits on the tripod. This fits with his natural interest in infrastructure and how things work, a fascination that extends to topics as varied as water meters, sewer drains, car engines, power lines, and anything electrical.

Mathew likes to keep me company when I take studio pictures. He’ll press the remote release for me to lock the mirror up. We’ll hold really still. After a pause, he’ll press the release again to make the exposure, and we’ll count the seconds until the shutter closes with a thunk.

This is Mathew’s self portrait. He had me set the camera up, using lights and a burlap backdrop from a still life setup. Then he pressed the release.

Mathew's Self Portrait

When Mathew is sitting quietly counting exposure seconds with me, there is no sweeter child on earth. But when he runs amok, the “other side” of Mathew is an experience.

Yesterday, all six of us were at the new Berkeley Bowl West, quite a wonderful supermarket: more spacious, with adequate parking, and without the crowds that make the original Berkeley Bowl an ordeal despite the glorious produce.

Mathew grew wilder and wilder. He was walking the aisles with his comfort object, a blanket. Despite warnings, he tossed it in the air—and it vanished over the top of some tall freezer units.

I commandeered a step ladder, but the blanket was no where to be seen. Finally, Phyllis went to the information desk and came back with a burly and sweet employee, who told me, “When I was little, I had a blanket, too.”

It took taking some of the freezer units partially apart, and using a long metal “snake”—but at last the blanket was rescued, and handed to a slightly subdued Mathew.

Of course, in the annals of parenting, this may not even compare to my experience the other night: getting out of bed to pick the wailing Katie Rose up at 2AM, and promptly having her barf all over me. Sometimes being a parent ain’t easy, but it is almost always interesting!

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