My dearest Jack, I had no idea, when you found my old digital camera, that you would figure out how to use it. Nor had I any idea that when you brought it to me and asked me to "lookit pitchers" on the "commuter" that I would find on its memory stick a treasure of the rarest kind: insight into how you look at the world. I found, among the pixels, another clue into who you are - into what is most important to you and into what you see through your eyes.
When you were very little, before you could crawl and roll, I read in a magazine that parents should crawl around their house and "look at things from the child's perspective" in order to help baby-proof the home. I did that, and I picked up nick-knacks and I plugged outlets and wound up cords... but there is no way I really "saw" what you see. I didn't realize how wonderfully interesting that plastic "pukkin" in its basket of leaves can be to a toddler just discovering the fact that seasons change and holidays are special occasions replete with their own adornments that set them apart from every other day. The pukkin that I take for granted as a routine decoration that just goes along with the drop in temperature is so much more to you - it's strange and different and out-of-place and therefore worthy of capturing with your pitcher taker. It's fodder for deep discussions about the color orange and the fact that leaves do grow on trees which are very tall and sometimes hide the birds making all that noise. So that these things now sit on the floor in your living room is astonishing and interesting, and I never grasped that until now.
Your toys are important to you in the same way that my cell phone is important to me. The way my wallet and keys and credit cards are... Those things are essential to me getting through the day and they are the tools I use to conduct myself in this world. Your toys are your tools for interacting with your world. They are how you express yourself and how you learn, and they are as integral to your day and to your life as my phone and internet are to mine. So it is perfectly natural that you would capture your "dackter" in the camera's memory - though I cast it aside as an annoying nuisance to trip over and put away each night, it is so much more than that to you.
... Your airplanes are classified into two kinds: "Airplanes," and "Brrrrrm-brrrrrm"'s, which Daddy is forever trying to convince you are actually called "propeller aircraft" but I keep telling him is an obnoxiously specific name and using the sound it makes is not only more efficient but more practical. We have long discussions about airplanes; we talk about the sounds they make, the "boom booms" they carry and cause things to go "bouf", their speed, where they go, whether or not we can see them "high up in sky" or if "there too mannay clouds"... Maybe one day you'll be an aerospace engineer like your Dad, or maybe you'll make your desire to "fly up in space to look at stars" come to fruition...
I had no idea, Little Man, that when we bought our house in Georgia near the railroad tracks we were buying into a life-long love of all things train. I don't know if it was that twice-daily visit from the St. Mary's Railroad engine that imparted your love of locomotives, cars, tracks, bridges, tunnels and cargo, or if you were born hard-wired to be fascinated by the rails, but I do know that, even though we don't have a train that rocks past our house every day, our lives are full of "hoot-hoot"-ing and "chug-chug"-ing just as often anyway and I would not want it any other way. Your train-o-philia is so much a part of your personality, I am not in the least surprised to see frame after frame of photographs of your collection - the tracks, the table, the engines and cars... Jack, I love your enthusiasm and focus so much.
This photo is so bittersweet to me. I don't think I have any other pictures of me nursing any of you kids. Jack, you captured, in such a respectful and innocent way, one of the most intimate moments I get as a Mommy. It makes me sad, to an extent, that this is what you see from me so often - me, on the sofa, baby on lap... but it makes me so happy that you're there with me, sharing the experience. Even though you're over two and a half years old, Jack, and even though those chunky pink legs belong to your little sister Addie, they just as easily could have belonged to you; it wasn't that long ago that I was holding you on that Boppy, on my lap, on that sofa. I never would have seen myself this way if you hadn't given me this photograph. Thanks, Buddy... it means so much.
My first inclination when I saw this last one was to holler at you to stop flashing yourself because it will hurt your eyes, but it's too late, and I should just hush and enjoy looking at how blond your hair is and how blue your eyes are and how long your lashes are. So here I am, marveling at how bright you are in so many ways, Kiddo... and at how awesome it is that you've given me the chance to step behind those bright blue eyes and look out from your windows and see your world... It's fascinating and heart-warming and funny all at once.