Last weekend I was out at Muslim Day, the weather was not hiking friendly. This past weekend was Memorial Day, incredibly hot, and incredibly fitting for kicking off summer because we had family over in Palmdale! By the end of the day I was too exhausted the next day to go on our planned hike through Devils Chair and Devils Punchbowl.
But I survived to tell the tale of how exhausting spending time with kids can be! The sort of tiredness I experienced after the kids had all been packed, provisioned, and sent off on their way with their parents, is not something I ever realized had existed before. I thought the worst sort of exhaustion involved spending an overnight trip with a group of twenty rowdy, hormonal teenagers; yet, it is not comparable to spending six hours with kids between the ages of one year and nine!
During Muslim Day I was feeling my trepidation with portrait photography. Adults are about niceness or flattery when taking pictures. Children, on the other hand, climb, jump, and play. Kids haven’t learned the subtleties of self-control or diplomacy. They are raw, honest creatures that will tell you something an adult will hold back. They approach the world with wide eyes and wonder, smallest things captivate their attention. They wiggle and giggle and their imagination isn’t something they restrict with a leash.
I realize that the older we get, the more we retreat into societal shells constructed by all sorts of variables. The more we retreat into these shells the less we move, burdened and tied down- we lose our freedom. That’s how adults get wrapped up in their busy, complex, and full of stress lives.
Spending time with my cousins was a blast and a great learning experience while photographing them. To say that they are “rambunctious” is an understatement! Their curiosity and excitement, getting upset or angry- all these emotions are intensified, and unhinged from “adult” behavior. Worse, you can’t reason with them. Their understanding of “logic” is beyond rudimentary! When kids are excited, they move fast and it’s great to capture all that energy in a single frame, but man is it hard! I found that I was putting my camera down and playing tag, then picked it up again to take pictures while they were sitting down catching their breaths.
The really cool thing about kids is that you get a really good sense of their personalities without having to peal back too many layers of complication and life that piles up on adults. Children wear their personalities on their faces and taking their pictures is so much more enjoyable because of that. Being able to photograph my cousins was an opportunity to slow down the clock and to savor being left to marvel at the little moments. They weren’t interested in whether I got the shot or not. But what they loved was me joining in with them to run and get imaginative. Setting the camera down to be a kid was joyous and liberating.
From this past weekends experience I’ve come to the conclusion that being around children is enlivening to a stale adult like me, though brutally tiresome too. It keeps the adult mind keen on the simplicity and beauty of life. Kids are always amazed by nature and science and the smallest acts of kindness, and the crazy thing is that they infected me with their view of the world.
Its not easy to keep them “entertained,” out of trouble, and when they had been exhausted it was time to give them back to their parents. I liked that, a lot. That’s why it’s just an awesome idea to just rent-a-kid; there’s a mutual exchange occurring that benefits all parties involved, hopefully, as long as the party is responsible, honest, and capable of managing the children!