Thursday, March 7, 2013

My Life: the Outtakes

Not every day is filled with perfectly behaved children and nicely styled outfits and perfectly prepared food. In fact, most days are not like that. I don't know that I would want them to be. Sometimes the most fun is in the unscheduled, the ridiculous, and the otherwise inconvenient.

Last night, E woke up muttering to himself for a few minutes before going in for full-blown crying. The Husband nipped into the darkened nursery to bring him through into our uncharacteristically well-lit room for half-eleven at night. E initially refused to be comforted, but when he'd dragged himself into full alertness, he was thrilled to be in Mummy and Daddy's bedroom.

He frollicked all over the bed; tumbling, jumping, and turning. And then, in the pièce de résistance, he coyly tilted his head and shrugged his shoulders at us. This trick was repeated every time it elicited our incredulous laughter. Sometimes I'm astounded at what a cheeky beast this boy is.

Today, I planned to take cute pictures of E in some outfit that I'd put together before heading to the library for singing time. I'd magically pair up some shirts and trousers into a fun combination to rival the relatively incidental 'country gentleman' outfit of last Sunday. Then, relatively well-behaved, E would sit still long enough for me to catch some serendipitous poses in brilliant indirect light, all while I mastered the manual settings on our camera: a mystery whose depths I've only just begun to plumb.

Of course, it didn't work that way. And on reflection of those pictures, I'm glad that it didn't. Sure, better mastery of the manual settings of my camera would be nice, but so many of the 'outtakes' capture the adorable bundle of energy, affection, and high-pitched squealing that is Ethan: a thing I wouldn't trade documenting for any well-posed glamour shot.

It makes me think of all the pictures I pin of beautiful interiors of houses: nicely staged with impractical arrangements of nicknacks and books. Flooded with brilliant white light...perfectly white balanced, focused, and cropped. Perhaps even a strategically blurry child running through the shot, just to give it that meticulously cultivated air of, oh yes, we just happen to live this stylishly all the damn time, and we do it backwards with our eyes closed...but don't feel bad.

That's not real life. And that's okay: embracing and finding value in the not-real can serve plenty of purposes in a setting like long as you acknowledge that it isn't real. Real life is the Lego car chassis that sits on my living room floor hours after E has gone to bed. It is my dining room table covered in unwashed place mats, baby Wellington boots, wooden toys, crayons, a sippy cup, and a gorgeous glass cake stand...that holds a tower of trivets and a bag of cotton wool balls. The clean, dry laundry that's still waiting in the window to be taken off the clothes horse and put away. Mismatched toddler socks, a bathtub full of little plastic balls, and plastic tubs of Lego stacked five-high in the living room. Add in a few bran muffin crumbs that E has ground into my bedroom carpet, and you pretty much have my life right now...provided your dresser drawers are all disorganized jumbles of clothes.

But despite areas of untidiness, it's beautiful. It's cozy and clean and ours, and that is what counts. Not looking like a feature in Better Homes and Gardens.

Yes, Mother: that is a fork he's playing with. He loves that fork. He screams and tries to bite me when I try to take it away. He'd cuddle it in bed at night if we didn't distract him with the toothpaste and some books first.

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