Last week we had to submit pictures for my son’s high school yearbook, which included his senior picture and a picture from when he was a baby. As usual, we waited until the last day, so we spent the night before going through albums and boxes with an assortment of pictures. As much as it was kind of annoying to have to do that when I could have been getting my beauty rest, it also made me really happy.
As I was going through the pictures of my kids when they were little, there were a few things that really stood out to me. Foremost, was that both kids were smiling and happy in almost every picture. I’m not just talking about posed, “say cheese” pictures, but also unplanned, unscripted pictures. That is how I remember them; smiling, laughing, playing, just doing the funny, goofy things kids do. Another thing that was quite noticeable was that my kids did a lot together. It was really hard finding a picture of just my son, all by himself. In almost all the pictures of him, my daughter was right there with him, both of them smiling and laughing. Somehow there were also quite a few pictures that included me with the kids, which amazed me since I don’t remember my wife taking all those pictures. However, I’m glad she did, and I was glad to find there were also a number of pictures of my wife with the kids. At least they can’t say we never spent time with them, because we’ve got the proof!
The sad part is that they probably don’t remember many of those times. I know I don’t remember much before first grade. Sure, I remember a few things here and there, but not a whole lot. Even when we’ve broken out old pictures with my family and talked about what was going on when the picture was taken, I either vaguely remember or I don’t remember at all. I’m in the pictures, so I know I was there, but the memories are gone. In one way it’s sad that I can’t remember those times, but in another way it’s nice to hear my older brothers and sisters talk about something that they remember so vividly.
One of my uncles once took a bunch of pictures at a family party in our backyard when I was just a little guy, maybe about six years old. There were aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, sisters, parents and grandparents at that party. He had them made into slides and years later he brought them and a projector to our house to show us. As we worked our way through the slides, I realized that one way or another I managed to get into a large percentage of the pictures. Here’s a picture of all the adults standing together as couples – with me lying on the ground, peeking out between someone’s legs. Here’s a picture of all the older kids – with me sticking my goofy face in from the side. Here’s a picture of random people standing around talking, unaware their being photographed at that moment – with me facing the camera with a cheese ball smile a mile wide. Strange, but I have absolutely no recollection of that event.
I’m sure that someday we’ll sit down with the kids, maybe even the grandkids, and look through those pictures and reminisce about that birthday party, or the time that my daughter made a whole snowperson family, or how my son always wore a hat or a visor, or the summer vacations on the Vineyard, or the first day of pre-school or kindergarten or first grade. Or hundreds of other things that my kids barely remember but I happily remember like they were just yesterday.