January 29, 2009

Little Paparazzi

A few nights ago, Mia saw our old point-and-shoot camera and expressed her interest in taking pictures. It sounded something like mommydaddymommydaddy can I take pictures pleeeeeeaseee?. We said sure, and after some brief and ignored instruction, that's precisely what she did. She ran around the house taking pictures of absolutely everything no matter how mundane. The dishwasher, her fairies and princesses, her dark room at bedtime, her fingers which frequently got in the way of the camera itself, her naked brother in the bath tub.

Her enthusiasm was awesome to watch. It made me feel good since she probably got some of this from me, her dad with the camera permanently attached to his face. That, of course, got me thinking about my own influences, my influence over my kids, and what I want them to get out of the future.

Qualities I Want My Kids To Pick Up From Me
- Inquisitiveness. I realized the other day how much time I spend on Wikipedia and related sites. It's because I get lost in the Endless Loop Of Wanting To Know. Like, I'll start looking for something about Fort Knox because I was randomly watching the Bond flick Goldfinger and I'll wind up - an hour later - brushing up on the history and architectural importance of flying buttresses. I have no idea what I'll ever do with that knowledge but it might come in handy sometimes, right?
- Creativity. I like to write, draw, play multiple instruments, take photos and read. Without these outlets, I'm quite sure I'd wither away.
- Brains. I might not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I think I've got some brains.
- Drive. I don't like to admit it - quite the opposite, actually, since I constantly refer to myself as a slacker - but I'm a pretty driven guy. Sometimes to a fault.
- Silliness. 'Nuff said.

Qualities I Would Rather Keep To Myself And Not Share With My Children
- Hard-On-Myselfiness. With that whole driven thing comes the fact that I'm more than a smidge hard on myself. It took me thirty years to realize that I sought perfection and beat myself up when I was inevitably not able to be perfect. (And yeah, mark the date and time - Chris admitted he wasn't perfect.)
- Brain Chemistry. I've made no secret of the fact that I've suffered from depression and anxiety. I hope my kids are spared that particular hell. It's not fun.
- Focus. I like to multitask. Right now, I have two computers in front of me with a couple of different email applications open alone. But the truth is I don't multitask all that well. Because my focus sucks. In Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, act like Rude Cactus is not one of them.
- Patience. I'm an immediate gratification kinda guy. Patience is not my strong suit. It's already apparent that it's not Mia's either. Maybe we'll get lucky with Owen, right?
- Neuroses. No shock but I'm a little neurotic. I'm sure my kids are going to be neurotic enough without getting any of my neuroses directly from me.

So, here are the questions. How did your parents most influence you? And what traits do you hope you give (or avoid giving) to your kids?

Posted by Chris at January 29, 2009 6:32 AM

Just my opinion but I think multi-tasking is highly overrated (unless it's absolutely necessary).

Think about how much we miss. The world might be better off if we all slowed down a bit to enjoy the moment.

Love the pics. When the girls were little (especially Rochelle) they loved putting the camera right in their own faces and pushing the button.

Posted by: Ann Adams at January 29, 2009 8:16 AM

I love giving a kid a camera and finding out what is most interesting to them! It's akin to crawling around the house on my hands and knees to see what the baby's noticing all the time... but much less hard on the knees.

Between myself and my husband, I'm afraid that my children will be doomed to a lifetime of sarcasm, cynicism, loud voices and anti-depressants. On the upside, the good-parent bar is set that much lower for me.

Posted by: NG at January 29, 2009 8:32 AM

we got my son a point-n-shoot for christmas (he's 4)...

i love looking at the pictures he takes. scarily, a good percentage of the pictures are of himself doing weird myspace poses.

also, you've just inspired me to add the pics he takes to my flickr account so i can remember them.

Posted by: bri at January 29, 2009 8:45 AM

My parents taught me a lot of great qualities, like being interested in learning, kindness, etc. but for sure, I do not want my children to pick up on the short fuse I got from my dad. I am so quick to get angry but definitely trying to get better so they won't be assholes like he was. (Though a great guy, my dad was a jerk to me a lot of my childhood because he couldn't control that temper.)

Posted by: Claire at January 29, 2009 8:53 AM

If I had kids I pretty much want them to inherit the same things as you said, life is a whole lot better with some silliness, creativity and inquisitiveness. As for not inheriting things, again brain chemistry and neuroses, I'm pretty sure I inherited my brain chemistry from my granny.

Oh, and Mia's photos? Very Lomo/shoot from the hip.

Posted by: Katherine at January 29, 2009 8:55 AM

Wow. You should really print that collage, frame it and hang it proudly on a wall in your home. Unique art right there! I love it.

I want my kids to respect people. I want them to have compassion. I want them to speak their mind and not feel inhibited or pushed aside. I do all of those and sure, it's not always easy but it makes life just a wee bit better.

Posted by: Holly at January 29, 2009 9:01 AM

I have my mother's stubborness. It's a curse. I also have her ability to decide what is ailing me without the benefit of a physician's advice...not always correct.

However, I don't do that with my family so much.

My daughter had inherited her dad's anxiety issues and they are somewhat increased because she also inherited my stubborness. Poor girl.

Posted by: daisy at January 29, 2009 9:05 AM

I have a lot of pride and don't like to ask for help when I really desperately need it I think I definitely get that from my dad.

My work ethic I get from both of them.

I think I definitely wouldn't want to pass on sooo much of the pride thing, if you need help ask, sometimes that's all it takes.

Posted by: Deirdre at January 29, 2009 9:23 AM

I think giving kids cameras is a great idea. It's amazing what they can capture (and how they can accidentally get an award-winning shot).

As far as traits, I inherited by father's pack rat ways, much to the chagrin of everyone I've ever lived with. I inherited my parents' generosity and tendency to "adopt" people. I inherited my mom's stubborn streak.

I hope any children I have don't inherit the pack rat gene and it'd be nice if they were less stubborn and more motivated than me. lol

Posted by: Sparkle Pants at January 29, 2009 9:29 AM

My parents taught me unconditional love. I can't tell you how many times in my nearly thirty years that I have messed up TERRIBLY. But my parents were always there for me. I knew that it wasn't a case of "you can do no wrong" but more of a, "you can do wrong and we will still love you." Because of that I have an amazing relationship with them.

I wanted to avoid giving my daughter: A) My stubborn streak = too late, we bash heads CONSTANTLY. B) My mental health issues = again, too late. Kid is in therapy biweekly. I also wanted her to get my ability to let anything and everything roll off her back. There is little people can do that gets to me (Annoy me? Yes. Damage my spirit? No.) But I'm glad she didn't. She is a sensitive girl, and it makes her amazingly compassionate. I envy her for that.

Posted by: js at January 29, 2009 9:29 AM

While I love my mother and still sort of want to set the step-father on fire (not as much as I used to, though...baby steps), I'd still have to say that they hooked me up with a flaming bag of neuroses, then said, 'Good luck!' as I walked out the door.

Same as yours, plus my inhuman ability to persevere and remain calm when shit hits the fan.

Don't Gives:
Same as yours again, but I'd probably add my hair. Two cowlicks. Pains in the ass all my life.

I've said it before, but it seems like we're clones. If this were a movie and Michael Bay were directing, we'd probably spend our time trying to kill each other and Samuel L. Jackson would probably be involved somehow.

Posted by: You can call me, 'Sir' at January 29, 2009 9:29 AM

From my dad I got:
My love of music (he's a pianist, that's his job, so even though I can't play piano worth a damn, I got the music bug)

I get super cranky when I'm hungry. Like "get the hell out of my way" cranky

From my Mom, I got:
My fiercely independent nature. Even when she was married, she was married to losers that didn't pull their weight and she basically supported us and did everything. From her, I got the sense of not needing anyone to do things for me, to support me. This is sometimes good, sometimes bad - I'm so independent that I'm sure it makes people feel unneeded.

My love of birthdays, holidays - and the nagging desire to make every event a HUGE event.

My need/ability to keep in touch with people - I enjoy my friendships and love connecting with people.

What I hope my kids get: My creativity, my love of music, my determination, my independence (to a lesser degree).

What I hope they don't get: my introvertedness, my big feet (random but seriously, ugh), my total people pleaser nature.

Posted by: Sarah at January 29, 2009 9:52 AM

Mia takes great pics!


Posted by: jessica at January 29, 2009 10:44 AM

Mia's picture of Owen in the bathtub is perfect. You know that, right?

And if I ever have kids, I don't want them to be alcoholics. Really bad I don't.

Posted by: k8 at January 29, 2009 11:19 AM

I love Mia's perspective of things. Seeing everything from BELOW... Her photos give you a great idea of what her little eyes see. And also? She's talented! Those pictures are pretty dang creative.

Posted by: GreenCanary at January 29, 2009 11:26 AM

I am currently writing an article about giving your kid a camera. My daughter was completely spoiled by my Aunt on her birthday and was given a very very nice digital camera. It has a dslr type body so she can hold it without her finger getting in the way. Even has the strap so she can wear it around her neck just like Mommy. And just like Mommy Sophia also wanted a blog. SO she has her own photo blog. www.phiseyes.blogspot.com

She is always so proud to see her pictures up!

Posted by: elissa at January 29, 2009 11:35 AM

I also hope my children do not inherit my chemical imbalance. And my shyness.
But I do hope they get my sensitivity towards others and love of animals and optimism.
I get both the brain issues and all of the good from my mom's side...so hopefully they only get the good.
I hope they get athleticism from my dad because I sure didn't!

Posted by: diane at January 29, 2009 11:44 AM

my emily is obsessed with cameras. she already has 3 of her own...and spend most of her day taking photos and retaking. it warms the cockles.

Posted by: ali at January 29, 2009 11:50 AM

i think mia is a natural!

and my lists look very similar to yours. i think about this kind of stuff all the time. i think my childhood growing up on a lake 11 miles outside of a small town on the oregon coast (and the city girl it eventually made of me) made me a good mix of perspective and appreciation for things.

lately lola has been coming to the camera cupboard and asking "smile? smile?!" until we let her play with our old crappy point and shoot, too. so far, no actual pictures from the experiment, but one of these days...

Posted by: kati at January 29, 2009 11:59 AM

First off. You are totally fabulous and if your kids are like you, then the world is a better place.
Second, if they take after Beth, then that is great too.

Posted by: Maribeth at January 29, 2009 12:05 PM

Does she have her own digital camera for kids? My daughter has one and LOVES it. You can even uplaod the photos on the internet.
I'm going to post this even though someone else suggested the same thing.
Also, my parents are an odd sort so I've probably inherited that from them. But I also believe I'm a generous person like my father and fun-loving like my mom can be (when she's caffinated). I find that there is a lot I'd like to give my children that actually might be in opposition to how I was raised. For example, the t.v. That sucker was on alllllllll the time in my household and I think that contributed to my short attention span

Posted by: Jessica at January 29, 2009 12:11 PM

There is NO WAY I'm touching this question, except to say I could do without all the body hair and I really should buy a guitar before I die.

PS: My favorite memory of my parents outside band practice was them taking pictures obsessively. I bet it'll be hers, too. :)

Posted by: Mr Lady at January 29, 2009 12:47 PM

Haha! I thought you'd taken those pictures, and I was, like, WTF what is trying to get at here....? ;)

I think I'm straying from a lot of my parents' influences. Finally. I've always been a free spirit -- and, although they did their best, I think they unintentionally, and with the best intentions, discouraged it so that I would conform. They're big on keeping kids "busy" and "BOUNDARIES, it's all about BOUNDARIES." And, I think that's very common for their generation. While I'll take some of it with me, for sure, I want to cultivate creativity (like you) and celebrate uniqueness. I definitely don't want to pass on my anxiety to my kids.... I've worked hard to develop tools for that -- so that they don't pick it up. :)

Posted by: Haley-O at January 29, 2009 2:18 PM

Like you, I'm trying my damnedest to keep the depression, perfectionism, anxiety, and neuroses to myself. Something tells me they are all tied together in a not so neat little package. Hopefully most of it can be attributed to my crappo childhood and not my genetic make up so maybe what little of it is actually passdownable won't be passed down.

My mom always told me to be myself, and the older I get the more I realize how important this is. There must be some reason why I am me and you are you, so we better be those people.

My grandma always told me to read everything I can. I attribute almost every one of my successes on my ability to be a better reader than most people.

Posted by: lora at January 29, 2009 2:18 PM

I hope they don't inherit my lack of confidence. I want them to believe they can do anything and not let anyone tell them they can't. This is something I struggle with daily and I hate it! I also want them to not sweat the small stuff, but I think this is something one only accomplishes with age and wisdom.

Posted by: Susan at January 29, 2009 2:23 PM

Great pics!
Great post!

I'd say I'm the black sheep of the family and the things that my parents cherish/value are not necessarily the things I cherish/value. We've always had our differences.

Major difference are the things you want your children to get from you and that I also want to pass along to mine - things like creativity, silliness, inquisitiveness, etc - I have always appreciated out of the box thinking! I also hope he gets my perserverance.

I sure as heck hope that mine is a little bit more patient than me. From what I can tell.. well, sometimes, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.


Posted by: Daisy at January 29, 2009 4:46 PM

Okay, not answering the question, but commenting on Mia's photos. My friend gave her daughter a camera and it was amazing how much things looked different from a small person's perspective!

Posted by: Heather at January 29, 2009 5:44 PM

I'm with you on the "please don't get my brain chemistry!" And I'm always looking up random things on wiki and my sisters think it's very weird :P

Posted by: Heather at January 29, 2009 5:48 PM

I think the way that my parents most influenced me was in entertaining - a love of good wine and food and sitting around a table with family and friends. I grew up with this being a major part of every week and weekend and I think I do the same in my home. I know my brothers and sisters do too. I hope I can pass that on to my childrem - simple pleasures in life. Food. Family. Conversation. Good music always playing in the background.

I hope my kids don't get my manic need for everything to be clean and tidy and organised and arranged and well, nice. I wish I could be more relaxed about this. It SO doesn't matter.

As an aside I noticed in Mia's photos that she has the cinderella toothbrush. Have you looked at that? My niece has it and bought it over for a sleepover one night and I was amazed at how much she looks like a tranny. SUCH a thick neck. Makes me laugh everytime I see it. Princess indeed ha!

Posted by: Beth at January 29, 2009 7:59 PM

We bought our 4 year old a "kids" digital camera for christmas. I love the pictures. It's like seeing things from her point of view and seeing things how she sees them. I love it!

Posted by: Drama Queen at January 31, 2009 6:50 PM

She's got some big footsteps to follow in!

Posted by: Dianna at February 2, 2009 1:00 PM

I take secret pleasure at sharing my cameras with my daughter. There's not a chance in hell my pops would have let me handle his 35mm when I was 4 years old like my kid is.

Watching your kids take on characteristics you assign to yourself or your partner is pretty weird sometimes. Like my kid paces when she's on the phone just like me, too. It almost makes me want to be more careful about what I say and do.

Anette and I have the same kind of "I hope my kid gets YOUR genes" discussions. "No, YOUR genes are way better for that, I hope she got YOUR genes." "No, no, it's YOUR genes that are better, so I hope she gets YOUR genes for that." Like those polite chipmunk in old Loony Tunes cartoons. And it's weird because I'm adopted and don't know anything about my real parents or genes, so "my side" is a unknown mixture of nature and nurture.

Who says God doesn't play dice? Well, I guess Einstein said something like that, but that's not the point.

Posted by: rpm at February 2, 2009 2:13 PM

My favorite memory of my parents outside band practice was them taking pictures obsessively.

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