When I tell people that I am writing picture books and also have young children, I am often told how lucky I am, how what they say and do must provide such a treasure trove of inspiration, etc. This is all certainly true and one of the main reasons I started this blog. However, the other part of it is that it is hard to find time to remember things and write them down. Often, as I'm going about my day, I think of something I want to add to this blog or that I should write down. Sometimes I have the next three weeks of this blog planned out...and then I get to my computer and can't remember any of them.
Today, looking around the dining room after lunch, I found a mess that was impressive even by my standards. This was the kind of mess that could only be made by a boy who had divided his noodles into good guys and bad guys and started a war while the three-year-old was simultaneously attempting to make a banana milkshake by putting part of a banana in his cup of milk and getting the battery-operated milk frother down from the counter on his own to mix it while the good guy (or maybe bad guy) noodles jumped in only to be poured back in the bowl along with the milk and the (not really mixed) banana. It was, in short, the kind of mess that you need to take a picture of to preserve for posterity and future hilarity prior to cleaning it up.
At no time in history has it been easier, theoretically, to preserve such a moment. I had a pocket. I had a phone in a (not really any more, probably) waterproof case with a camera in that pocket. I took it out, only to discover that I had insufficient memory to take a picture. Easily solved! I thought as I tried to delete some pictures. Surely if I delete one there must be room for another. That's only logical. WRONG. I deleted about 30. I still could not take one. I deleted about 30 more. I still cannot take one. At this point, I started to feel frustrated and also the baby started to crawl on the table. The boys, by this time, were running around outside without shirts on. I didn't know whether to be pleased or upset that the dog who used to clean up messes of this kind for me was no where to be seen.
The tablets, which also have cameras, are kept uncharged (so that kids can't ask to use them; they are charged prior to approved tablet-using days like days when we're flying somewhere or going to the hospital). The actual camera that is not a phone hasn't worked in more than a year (it claims its memory card is locked; it is not; after discovering that my spouse's phone is a better camera than the real camera anyway, we gave up on trying to fix it). However, having decided I needed a picture of this mess and already devoted at least 5 minutes to what should have been a 5-second process, I was determined not to give up. In the end, I took my laptop computer from my desk and took the picture. It was a little harder to capture the angle I wanted, but it was better than nothing.
I suppose that's what I'm going for generally: the lunch itself, although not very nutritious, was better than nothing. The supervision I provided while thinking about other things, was better than nothing. Taking the baby off the table was better than nothing. And taking a picture with my computer and writing this down a few hours later, during a rare moment when all three kids are napping, is better than nothing. It may be hard, in writing or in photos, to perfectly capture a moment, but if we don't try, we certainly can't do it. So, I'll just keep trying. It's better than nothing.