By Carol Band
Other parents began to take pity on me and gave me copies of their photos. So, now I have lots of snapshots that feature other people's children - with my kid playing a supporting role.
Paper snowflakes hang on the auditorium stage. The pianist shuffles through her sheet music and the parents are jockeying for prime positions with video cameras poised, zoom lenses focused and flash batteries freshly charged.
It's the Winter Concert, formerly known as the Holiday Concert and once upon a time called the Christmas Concert. The accompanist pounds out the opening chords of "Frosty the Snowman" and the children file down the center aisle and take their place on stage. The kindergarteners are solemn in velvet jumpers and tiny bow ties. The skinny legs of sixth-grade girls are sporting their first pantyhose and the boys' hair is spiked with gel. My son is here too, looking uncomfortable, and a little like a waiter, in a white shirt and new black pants.
As the kids walk by, parents push like paparazzi into the aisle to snap photos. I dig in my purse for my camera, but the Kodak moment is fleeting and by the time the little green light signals that the flash is ready, Lewis has disappeared into the sea of sixth-grade heads. Shoot, I mean darn! Another moment remains unrecorded for posterity.
It's not the first time that I have missed the shot. Although I fully intend to take pictures of the momentous occasions in my children's lives, it just doesn't happen.
It's certainly not for lack of photographic equipment. We have plenty of cameras in our house. There are disposable cameras that have gone through the wash with the kid's camp laundry, 35 mm cameras that need batteries or film and a used video camera that came with a million cables and attachments, but no instruction booklet. There's even a camera on my cell phone - but the only one who knows how to take pictures with it is Lewis, and he uses his expertise to document the neighbor's dog and the inside of his mouth.
When I do find a camera that works, I leave it on the hallway table (where I thought I wouldn't forget it) or I accidentally hit rewind or I forget to buy batteries. From birthday parties to bar mitzvahs, the excuses are different, but the results are always the same. No photos.
Sure we have baby pictures of our first child. Fortunately, all ultrasounds look alike, so each of our subsequent children remains convinced that the fuzzy bean-shaped blob is him or her.
Eventually, other parents at soccer games and school plays began to take pity on me and gave me copies of their photos. So, now I have lots of snapshots that feature other people's children - with my kid playing a supporting role. There's Barbara's daughter in the kindergarten play with half of my daughter visible to her left. There's Scott's kid scoring a goal and I think that's the back of Lewis' jersey.
Frankly, I'm a little envious of those families who take pictures.
Already this year we've received Christmas … err, I mean holiday cards from the photographically inclined. These are people who are able to assemble their entire family in front of the hearth in August and get them to smile while wearing matching reindeer sweaters. They even get the dog to smile. Some of these portraits were taken by professionals. I can tell.
We've had professional photographers capture our family on film, too. I spent $12 for a photo of us screaming on the SooperDooperLooper at the amusement park. You can see my tonsils. There's another of us drenched in blue ponchos on the log flume ride. We even have a photo of us singing with Elvis at Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum. While none of these shots are very flattering, I like to believe that future generations will think that we lived in exciting times - certainly more exciting than the Winter Concert.
My son is in the third row on stage. And, while I can't see his new black pants, I can see that he looks totally bored. Frankly, I don't think that he is even moving his lips. Still, I know that even if you don't take pictures, children grow up in a flash. So, if anyone at the Winter Concert has a photo of my kid - I'd like a copy.