25 July 2006

A photo finish

In his Gruff Stuff column, Sean Badenhorst talks about footage time and photo-album space.

When my son was born, just over eight years ago, my dad gave us his old (but very good) camera and a new video camera. “So that you can capture memories,” he said. “Memories are very important, but often you only realise that too late.”

Filled with fresh new-parent enthusiasm, we diligently captured photos and footage for the first 20 months of our son’s life before our own began to fill up with all sorts of stuff, as they do in your late twenties. Both of us worked full time and, as we advanced in our careers, our lives just became fuller and more complicated. Sadly, one of the first things to suffer was the time and effort required to capture our little guy on film and video.

So now we have a pretty impressive record of his life up until the age of two, followed by the occasional burst of mostly photographic records of the next six years (the video camera broke and we haven’t had it repaired yet). And let me tell you, those are important years. Sure, he’s had his first teeth, spoken his first words and taken his first steps by the age of two, but there is a multitude of other precious – and not-so-precious – firsts in his life that are nowhere to be seen. Not in our house, anyway.

Like the first time he rode a bicycle, tied his shoelaces, read a sentence or used the loo. Or the first time he boogie-boarded in the shore break, appeared in a school concert or wrote his name. The first time he got stitches. The first time he swam across the pool... there isn’t a record of any of it, other than in memory. We mentally cling to the times he got the names of things wrong or muddled. You know, cute stuff like Monkey Casino (Montecasino), bikeysil (bicycle), Bonjobee (Bon Jovi) and gubblebum (bubblegum).

Can't remember
The past six years have been a bit of blur, really. We moved cities (twice) and have ended up in even more frantic jobs. And our favourite form of exercise – cycling – just happens to be very time-consuming. Sure, we’ve been on a couple of family holidays where we took some snaps that are lying in a box somewhere. We’ve got a video that we hastily edited of Kalon’s first two years as a Christmas gift to his grandparents. But that’s about it.

We didn’t think we’d have any more children until a few months ago, when my wife discovered she was pregnant. This time, we’ve vowed to put aside our busy lives and focus camera lenses on our second son. He arrives in two months and we’ve already got him on tape – scans at the gynae and a 3-D scan have given us a glimpse of what he’s going to look like. Stills of the scans are already in his first photo album.

Eight years on, technology has given us more tools with which to capture those special, once-in-a-lifetime moments. We’ve both got cellphones with still and video cameras. We’ve still got dad’s old reliable film camera, and now we’ve also got a digital camera. We just have to get that old Sony Camcorder fixed and we’ll be armed and dangerously omnipresent in his life.

In most families, it’s the first-born who is able to boast prime footage time and photo-album space compared to their younger siblings. Often the novelty wears off by the time Number Two arrives. Mom and Dad become less diligent about keeping records, less snap-happy in general.

Not in our family. No way. We’ve learnt from the first one – two years out of eight is a poor effort. No excuses this time, son… we promise. Love, Dad.

Sean Badenhorst is the editor of Bicycling South Africa

Article from Fit Pregnancy.


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