momentary(?) mementos

I remember going to a birthday party for a child some years ago and as the child was enjoying the party and family, their parents were moving around with cameras attached to their noses.  It bothered me but I wasn’t able to figure out what to say about it.  But now I do.

Last week my niece, Phoebe, invited me on night walk with her classmates.  It was beautiful.  Each of the first and second graders carried a handmade paper maché lantern and sang a song as they walked on a path through a local park.  The winding trail of candle lit globes was fairy-like and a photo of it all would have been lovely.

But Phoebe’s school discourages photography at their events and I have come to cherish this philosophy.  What is a more powerful memory for a child – the photo in the album or the experience of a story told to loving listeners over and over again?

My answer to those with camera-noses is this – be there to witness life, and tell the stories.

My parents are weeding through their mementos, and while I occasionally take home some of the “stuff,” it is more important to me that I hear the stories, and retell them.

About Ameliasb

daughter, sister, wife, mom, early childhood specialist, creator of poems, photos and sweaters View all posts by Ameliasb

10 responses to “momentary(?) mementos

  • wednesdayscreationsstudio

    Just took a minute to read your post – I love stories. The year before my mother died I was aware that she needed something to do that didn’t include reading or writing because she had become vision-impaired. I bought a small simple cassette tape player and a bunch of tapes and asked her to share stories of her life. She was an avid storyteller. I kept feeding her topics on subjects I was currently fascinated with. She always had a story to tell. She took it upon herself to share holiday memories and traditions.
    I have transcribed all her stories. I am so happy that I listened as was aware of her needs because I continue to be gifted by listening to her voice telling stories in only the way she could.
    Thanks for your post. It inspired me to share some of my experience.

  • Stacey Shubitz

    Does Phoebe go to a Waldorf school? Sounds like a Martinmas celebration was happening. I am assuming this this b/c my daughter and I go to one for a parent/child program. I’ve taken my camera out only three times since we’ve started there together. While I’m a big picture person, I do like the fact that smart phones and camera flashes aren’t always out and going off in the kids’ faces.

    Would love your thoughts about some of the media issues I’ve been writing about as a result of articles I’ve read as part of her parent/child program. Please feel free to weigh-in over at

  • Dana

    Lovely point to think about. My significant other has reminded me in some lovely life moments to put the camera down and live in the moment and enjoy it. Sometimes I am too busy capturing the moment that I don’t live it. Thank you for the reminder!

  • Two years and finishing strong...

    I am old enough to know about soapbox. I feel sometimes very guilty for not taking more pictures. There is always one in the family that documents everything and it wouldn’t be me. I do remember however, sometimes with the embellishment as well.

  • Judy C.

    I think at times we are so “picture happy” that we do forget to cherish those every day moments. That’s one of the reasons I have enjoyed writing these slices – just to remember. Pictures tell a lot of the story, but the story is what we actually see. Thanks for the reminder.

  • luckygurl

    Powerful story from one who so enjoys photography…

  • AJF (@Anitaferreri)

    This is a subject that is “wide and deep.” I feel pain for kids whose parents are attached to their cell phones or texting during any event – even if the parents are taking pictures and sending them to the spouse at work who could not get away. I feel pain for kids whose lives are organized around “shows” and tv sets because it is a way to keep them busy and entertained at the end of a long day. I feel pain for those who grow up seeing their parents behind cameras – even if some day they will enjoy some of the phots. ALL this technology that allows us to connect and save so many memories, might really be taking memories and time away. When I find myself drawn to the “beep” of a message on my “smart” phone, I try hard to resist but I observe my children have a much harder time doing so. My grad students act like I am cruel when I tell them to put the cells out of my sight during class. Thus, all this focus on technology might take some of the magic out of the moment.

  • Linda Baie (@LBaie)

    I used to have my students give ‘soapbox’ speeches, so yes I know what they are. I think it’s nice not always to have the camera out, although I also like capturing special times, blowing out candles, opening gifts, etc. When we take our students on trips, we ask that there be no cell phones or IPods, etc. We want them to be in the moment, right then. (Are there really cameras that attach to noses, or ?)

  • fireflytrails

    I have thought about this post for a long time. I never want to be the one holding the camera – I want to experience the moment more fully than that. But there are precious pictures that now help me remember things more completely, especially now that I am older and my mind scrambles the details. So maybe those folks who make and sell videos of programs and events really are providing a service after all… But what really strikes me here is that in making and keeping the pictures we let them do the talking, and we are losing the story – and the art of storytelling – along the way.

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