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There isn't much to writing an article when you're single, free and unimpaired by small humans. But chuck a child into the mix and difficulties arise..
What new parent hasn't sat down for a five-minute break on a Monday afternoon, smiling as their son rolls around the floor before tackling that one last bottle/potato/nappy to fill/peel/clean? Ten minutes later, job done, you slump back into your place on the sofa, look at your watch and find that it's Friday night, around about 9.48. 'Time' was once something to fill before the big event on Saturday evening; now it's fractured, pieced together with small events that somehow crowd out the possibility of there being another big event in your lives ever again. Suddenly going to the shops on your own seems a right treat.
How much easier if I had been asked to post a new weekly photo of my son! At present we have approximately 837 more photos of our son than the Americans took in the jungles of Vietnam during the 70s. I blame digital cameras. They are too good. The pictures focus themselves, centre themselves, and even take themselves if you want. And you can see the result immediately, to preserve or delete. Yeah, right. We have deleted one so far and that was only because I was assured by Jane that it made her legs look like prosthetic limbs for Jabba the Hut's fat cousin. But delete Tom? No way. Somehow every picture feels like a private, captured moment that can never be repeated; a personal still detailing a developmental stage of my perfect son. It doesn't matter that in some he looks like Cujo; what with the red eyes, the uncontrollable slobber, and the insane desire to show off his two teeth. The point is that he might never look like Cujo again. Got to keep that! Oooh look, he's blinking! Aaah, he's turned away from the camera! Hey, did you know he could look like a bored ICT technician! How very remarkable.
We have the customary birth photos: bundled up on his mum's chest, a tender blue and with his tiny hands clutched against his chin. His eyes are closed and he looks asleep, calm, content. One particularly funny one has Sam, a mum of two, hitching a thumb into her bra-strap like a Hillbilly ready to nip out a quick feed. A Pavlovian milkmaid. The picture on this site last week of him lying on our bed was taken on the day of his birth, approximately three hours after Operation Forgetthemuckybit.
We then have a picture of him for pretty much every day since. Most days we have more as it would have been stupid to go through all the rigmarole of getting the camera out of its case (2.6 seconds) only to take one photo. We have pictures from the first day he smiled (wind or not it's still cute), eating pictures, sitting upright pictures, lying down pictures, turning over pictures, reaching out, clapping, going 'Whoooooh', playing, laughing, concentrating, reading, crawling, kneeling, on all fours, on his side, on his front, on his back, using lift the flaps, not understanding how to use lift the flaps and sleeping. Lots of sleeping.
Personally I wanted to buy a camcorder when Tom was born. We compromised (although it is striking how often our compromises reflect Jane's original wishes) and bought a good digital camera with video capability. You can record for up to three minutes at a time. Coppola apparently had over two hundred hours of footage before he edited Apocalypse Now. Once I thought he was a madman, now I smile at his austerity. I've lost track of the times we've said, 'Now that's a photo for his wedding day!' and meant it. At the rate we're going, we'll be hoping that Tom equals at least Liz Taylor's record or we'll just not get to show that one, last, special picture. Oh, you know the one, where he stares bemused at the camera and seems to be saying, 'If you think I'm letting you come to my wedding with that camera you've got another thing coming.'
June 24 2006
Dave Fouracre aka "Dave the Dad" is a regular feature writer here at thebabywebsite.com.
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