Point, Shoot and … I’ve Missed It
The night before a drama performance in which my son was participating, he had a question for me.
“Will I see you at the performance tomorrow?”
I reassured him that I would reach the auditorium well in time to get a good seat. But then he asked me the question again.
“Of course, you will,” I replied, a little confused by his line of questioning. “I am always there at your performances. Why don’t you think you’ll see me?”
“I know you are there, but I can’t see your face,” he explained. “The back of your phone always hides it because you are taking pictures or recording a video of the show. I always try to look for you when I am nervous or to see your reaction to my performance, but I can never see your face.”
I looked at my boy, stunned. He was right; I had been so obsessed with capturing these childhood memories for posterity’s sake that I was missing out on the present completely!
I was arriving early for shows so that I could get a seat that would give me the best angle and lighting for pictures. I remember panicking in the middle of one of my children’s events when I realized that I had forgotten to charge the video camera. Instead of enjoying the show, I was obsessed with saving enough battery power for the finale. I had invested in multiple storage devices over the years to archive the thousands of pictures and videos taken of school events to “remind” us of those special childhood memories.
Several years later, I don’t think any of us have viewed even one of those recordings or pictures.
At the performance the next evening, I chose to leave my camera in the bag. Instead of seeing a zoomed-in image of my son through my camera’s viewfinder, I saw the complete stage along with his role in the production. I could see him and his best friend exchanging glances and smiling at the start of the show. I didn’t miss the embarrassed grimace that young Prince Charming had on his face when he had to declare his undying love for Cinderella. I could appreciate the hard work of all the children who designed and painted the props. I could see the drama teacher beaming proudly at her students at the end of the show. For the first time that I could remember, I was enjoying the performance, rather than worrying about the obtrusive head of the person in front of me.
I looked over at the rest of the audience. Most of the proud parents were holding cameras in front of their faces, trying to get the best footage of their child’s performance. I felt strangely enlightened thanks to my son. Then, halfway through a song, he looked at me from his spot in the chorus. Our eyes locked, and he smiled. I won’t need a video or picture to remember that moment.
Once the show was complete, I took a picture of him, in full costume, next to the stage. When we look at that together in a few years, I’m fairly sure we’ll both remember day vividly. But for now, I can honestly say, I enjoyed the show—and my son saw my smile.