Friday, March 6, 2009

Scraps of the Good Life

I arrange photos of my busy children on the 12 by 12 inch patterned paper. Then I rearrange them, wanting to get it just right. It is not a birthday or holiday layout, just an ordinary moment in the backyard. Two boys playing in the dirt pile. I stare into their happy faces and try to think up a catchy page title.

And then it hits me. There is no picture of the older child pushing the younger one face first down the pile. There is no record of the little guy’s muddy face and his frightened, angry screams. There is also no picture of the little one throwing a Tonka truck down the hill into the bigger child’s back. Nothing to remind anyone of how that boy fell over screeching “mama, mama, he hit me.” I’m not scrapping the ugly stuff.

In my defense, it would probably be poor parenting to run for the camera, instead of a washcloth, when your howling two-year-old’s face is caked with dirt. So there really aren’t any pictures of the bad times. But, I didn’t mention it in my page journaling either. Hmmm, I pull out a stack of scrapbooks and flip through them with new vision. I am struck by my lies of omission.

I am recreating their childhood. I am memorializing the parts I am pleased with. I am embellishing the pages and their memories. I am showing them what to keep and hoping that they will forget the trucks to the back, especially the ones I have thrown (put the phone down, it's a metaphor). I take a moment to contemplate this, wondering if it is a bad thing or not.

My nearly pictureless childhood weighs in on the matter. There was so much dirt in my face. Suddenly a great lie of a page title pops into my head, A Little Dirt Never Hurt. Pushing my sad thoughts away, I reach for my die cutting machine.

p.s. Billy has been thinking about memories too. Turns out there is a new name for my style of scrapbooking... propranolol.


L.L. Barkat said...

Sad stuff will always be there for us. These memories you are pasting in the book... they are stories to counter the inevitable, to anchor and build.

I'm thinking your little ones will remember the wash cloth in mind pictures... as a symbol of your nurture when the going got rough.

As with you, I wish I had better stories to tell, pictures to show. When my children ask me, "tell us a story of when you were little," I go mute. "Ask Daddy. He tells good stories," I say.

They both promise to read my "story" (memoir) when they get older. To tell you the truth, I hardly cherish the day, even though it was my way of handling the dirt and also a gift to them.

Okay, I'm rambling now, because it's late. And because you struck a chord in me. And because I want you to put the nice memories in your scrap book... the book that is not just their life but your life redeemed from a pictureless childhood.

Monica said...

Yep, I have the same kind of scrap books, and if people only knew how many shots it takes to get the "perfect family" Christmas card. And if I want to be completely honest sometimes I feel like my blog is the same way.... I rarely post about my struggles or bad days...... Here you go making me think :)

By the way, that was a beautiful picture~

Billy Coffey said...

My wife is quite the scrapbooker, and her camera is a constant companion. She'll shoot ten pictures and keep maybe three. Like you, she wants to keep the idyllic shots.

Me, I keep the rest in an old box in the back of the closet. I'm not sure if she knows they are there, but those are the ones I pull out and smile over. Because to me, those are the ones that really show what our lives are like: where the people fuzzy and distorted and looking the wrong way.

What a great post.

CJ Field said...

I LOVE that last photo! They are so adorable!

We awarded you on Em's blog!!

Joelle said...

Good wonderings. I hear so much of my childhood through my mom's delicious stories, so much that I have a hard time discriminating between her retelling and my own memory. I don't resent her captions to the pictures of my life, but they limit my own interpretation, freezing an event in her words. Will have to go back through those visual and verbal pictures of the past and search for the missing pieces....

Jennifer @ said...

I have some great photos of my girls in their ugly moments: youngest daughter with her famous frown, oldest daughter with a tear running down her chubby cheek, youngest having temper-tantrum on the floor.

But these are rare images that were caught, which is OK, too. Photos such as these you've shared here -- photos of pure joy -- are proof of kids' resilience. How quickly they bounce back from moments of pint-sized despair.

Katrina said...

Interesting... As a scrapbooker myself, I can really relate.... and this definitely gets me thinking...

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