I always want to take more pictures of Juliette. She is, after all, the most important person in my life. I worry, though, that she will not like the way the pictures look. Sometimes I don't take the picture because of that, but maybe I should instead take it as an opportunity to take better pictures. She liked this one. So do I.
You've been telling people that you're two for the past few weeks, but today is the day that it actually happens.
Everybody talks about the "terrible twos," but even though you've certainly become much more opinionated over the past year, I have a feeling that you're going to keep being your same sweet self. It's something that everyone notices about you, how happy and good-natured you are. You're affectionate and empathetic, playful, and just generally wonderful to be around. Yesterday when you and Mommy met me for lunch, as soon as I opened your car door you greeted me by saying, "Hi Daddy. I missed you." And then you gave me a hug.
Of course it's hard not to love that kind of sweetness, but there's so much more I've gotten to know about you that also makes me smile. I love that you've picked up numbers and counting so quickly. I love that you like to introduce yourself to me every other day. ("Hi. I Eva.") I love that you will quack at yourself in the mirror when I wrap you in your ducky towel after bathtime. I love that you love books so much. I love that you're just as into pirates as you are into princesses. And I love that you get along so well with your brother.
I haven't gotten to see you as much as either of us would have liked over the past few months, since I've been spending so much time at work. Sometimes you cry when I leave in the mornings. But then, you're just as attached to Mommy and Jason, and you see them all the time. I'm sorry for all the time I've missed, and I hope you know how much I cherish the time I do get with you, with the whole family. We're going to Disneyland this weekend to celebrate and have fun and spend time together, and I promise I will be there for that.
Today's going to be a great day, my girl. Happy birthday! I love you.
Soundtrack: "Summer Breeze Extended" by Nicholas Pesci. Used with permission.
This morning you woke me up in order to ask me if I could get out of bed soon. Even though I was still feeling a little fuzzy with sleep, I could hear the anticipation and excitement in your voice about the pile of presents on the kitchen table. But I could also tell that you were holding yourself back, trying to be polite and patient, and it made me think of how much you've learned about self-control.
We talk a lot about the five tenets of tae kwon do that you learned in your karate class: courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control, and indomitable spirit. You know them all by heart, but more than that, you've learned a lot about what they all mean. Sometimes you make mistakes--just like all of us do--but when we talk about them, you're able to tell us which tenet is the one to work on. Every day I'm amazed at how much you understand and how mature you've become. I'm very proud to be your dad.
Now that you're older, we've been doing more things together. I love getting to take you to the movies, and watching shows with you in the evenings like Avatar. I love getting to show you things that I loved as a kid, like Star Wars. I love putting together Lego sets with you, and reading chapter books with real stories to you. I love that you can really swim now, and that when we go to the beach you are as passionate about digging big holes as I am.
Last night as I was putting the finishing touches on your birthday video, your mom asked me how many more times I'd be making these videos and writing these letters to you. It's something I've thought a lot about and never really figured out. But for now you're still excited about it--you asked to watch the video six times before I even finished it, and you got a big kick out of seeing yourself on the screen. So I figure that at least this one more year, I'll do this.
I don't know what the future will bring or how we'll all change in the next year, but I'm looking forward to finding out together.
Happy birthday, buddy.
Soundtrack: "Boop" by Podington Bear. Used with permission.
I keep taking this picture. I don't know how many times it's been now, and most of them I don't keep, but I still keep taking it.
Lately I've been worrying that I've begun to repeat myself photographically, like maybe I've run out of things to say. I've been frustrated because I think it's true. And yet I still can't stop myself from taking this picture.
I keep hearing that an artist--especially a photographer, and especially a photographer who takes pictures of his own family--needs to avoid sentimentality. And I think that's true, so maybe I'm not much of an artist. Maybe I never will be. Would that be OK with me? I think it should be, but I suspect it might not. Either way, I can't not take this picture.
At some point I won't be able to take this picture anymore, because he'll be old enough to bathe himself. And then because he'll be grown up and gone from the house. I take this picture over and over again because I can't help being overwhelmed by how beautiful it is, and I suppose because I'm aware of how little time I have left to take it.
I had a reviewer tell me once that photographs--artistic photographs, anyway--needed to be about more than making memories permanent, and I agree. I tell myself that I have loftier reasons for taking pictures: that a story shared can be transformative for both the listener and the speaker; that photography is my way of working through and understanding the experiences of my life, experiences that are both personal and universal; that I simply want to make something beautiful and put it into the world. And maybe all that is true. I hope it is. But I think maybe I really take pictures because my life goes by so fast, and I need to slow it down, to give myself something to hold onto.
Is that a good enough reason? It's good enough to keep me doing it. But maybe it's not enough to make me the kind of artist I'd like to be. I don't know why I care about that--I think I ought to know, but so far it's been too much to get my arms around.
But, whatever. It's a nice picture. Juliette will like it. It's enough.
Yesterday we went to Mission Beach and paid four dollars for a serving of cherry-flavored shaved ice that was truly ridiculous in size. I'm pretty sure it was bigger than Jason's head. Passers-by were actually pointing at it and laughing, it was so big. Between the fact that there was so much of it and the fact that it didn't really taste very good, none of us were terribly put out when we spilled some.