family life

3 things I didn’t know about my family

“When my kids become wild and unruly, I use a nice, safe playpen. When they’re finished, I climb out.” Erma Bombeck, American humorist

  1. All sorts of stuff goes on behind my back. Literally.

“Where was I?” I demanded, mystified as to how my daughters had done such stuff in their early childhoods. I have no memory of them spinning wildly on the living room’s hardwood floor or doing a coatless commentary on the porch’s Christmas decor, yet there they are doing these things. On film.

“I’m not sure,” my now-high-schooler daughter mused, but my location became obvious as a rainy weekend drove us further into a collection of family videos I did not even know existed. First, one video shows You Tube-like shenanigans in the kitchen that abruptly stop when I appear from the basement, carrying a basket of laundry. I smile at the girls, turn the corner to head upstairs. The whoop-to-do resumes — behind my retreating back.

The stealth action is even more laughable in a video our youngest daughter filmed when she was 3 or 4. The scene begins with a shot of my back going into the bathroom. Just outside, our daughters indulge in wiggling, wild-faced mayhem — occasionally panning back to the closed bathroom door, where our dog stands, looking rather nervous. I open the door, smile at the girls and move off to the kitchen, the dog at my heels. Game over.

2. Dads will be dads.

Who knew? The kids, of course. And, amusingly enough, my husband. He’s the one who gave a 3 year old a “junk camera” and later burned five years worth of her documentation of our family’s secret life onto CDs. As if the CDs aren’t incriminating enough, he’s a part of the video fun, dancing a jig in one scene, making silly faces in another.

I had to think hard just to figure out when all of this was done. Going by haircuts and clothes, I narrowed it down to a time when our little videographer was between the ages of 3 and 8. All I remember is her carrying around a silver camera for several years. And, all I knew is that she took a lot of photos, mostly of the dog and Barbie dolls posed on chairs. Ha!

He might be in trouble if the videos weren’t such a perfect capturing of who our children once were.

3. I don’t sit down enough.

And who I once was. “Even your hair looks tired,” videographer daughter observed during our viewing spree. I peered at the shot of my oblivious self at work in the kitchen. She is right. My hair does look tired, as does the rest of me.

The only scene in which I don’t look tired — a scene in which I obviously think I am being photographed, not filmed — is one where I’m sitting on the couch with one leg propped up on a wicker ottoman.

The leg is in a very large cast.


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