#198 False Memory

I sometimes think it might have been more fun to be a parent before digital photography was invented.

Back in the old days there were no action shots. There was one photo per holiday where you all had to stand together outside the tent/chalet, rain or shine, and say cheese. It didn’t matter what kind of weird photo-face you were making, that was the full extent of the record. The rest of the holiday disappeared pleasantly into the summer haze, free of the burden of having to be remembered.

Back then I imagine you could watch your children doing something funny or cute without having to scrabble for a camera phone. You could relax. Live in the moment.

Still, we are where we are. I have a phone. I can’t live in the moment. I have to capture


I find the children clustered around their baby brother in the bouncer, being unbelievably cute and gentle. I fumble for my phone. I thumb it. It goes blank. It works very slowly lately. It’s full up with seven thousand photos, half of them blurry shots of my childrens backs as they run out of frame. It takes an age to finally catch it’s breath.

I look up. One of them is running away. “Come back!” I shout.

“Why!?” he asks.

“I was taking a lovely photo of you and your baby brother!”

“Oh.” My son says. He runs back happily and sits back down beside the bouncer. “Like this?” He says, reaching out for his brother and smiling at the camera. I get a lovely photo. “Shall I kiss him?” He asks.

“Er… OK.” I say uncertainly. He tells his sister to look at the camera and smile while he kisses him. I get a lovely photo. It doesn’t look staged at all. It looks like my life is full of perfect moments like this. I look at my children, faultlessly reenacting their previous interaction with their baby brother, cute-ing things up for the camera. When we’re finally done they run away, happy.

I’m left with the vague, queasy feeling that something has gone wrong with the world. But the photos are great.

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