There are many special memories that come with being a parent. The first time your baby walks, talks, laughs, goes to school. In fact every “first” is something you want to capture and bottle forever. But a few years ago I learnt a valuable lesson about capturing memories.
I remember it like it was yesterday. Rushing into my daughter’s first kindergarten recital with similar excitement I had at a Robbie William’s concert decades before. The performance began and within a few minutes I reached for my mobile phone and began filming. I don’t know why I did it. Perhaps I was following other parents, momentarily unsure of what to do. Or maybe I had the FOMM (fear of missing a memory) and thought if I didn’t have it recorded, something might be lost.
So I videoed my daughter and instantly knew I was now viewing a B grade version of what was really happening. The experience had less colour, less life and all those things that come with viewing through a shrunk down lens. And then the moment happened. My little girl looked up at me, like they do for that reassuring nod of approval. And all she saw was the back of my mobile phone. I put the phone down and vowed to think twice before I did that again.
And I’m so glad I did. I laughed, I shed tears, we smiled together and I experienced everything that comes with being fully in that moment. And I saw the gift of my attention in her performance. She beamed with confidence and those off-key notes became even louder and prouder.
It was the right decision for my daughter and I. And let me be clear – I am not saying you should never video your kids. But I believe one of the most important principles in parenting is this. Kids need your attention. They crave it, right here and now in the present moment. Time is not a substitute for attention. Your child will look up at you 30 times times in a half hour sporting match searching for your expression of pride, your smile. They thrive under the warm glow of your attention.
So consider this question, when you rush to pull out the mobile phone. Are you capturing something, or are you captured? Stolen away from what is really important. Does being behind a mobile device disconnect you from what is going on?
We live in a different world today. A rock concert is now a sea of back-lit cellphone faces. Performances used to attract applause, but now it’s muted because hands are filled with a device trying to capture the moment. At school concerts kids no longer see the faces of their proud parents, but instead it’s the back of the device as they snap a moment to share. And we are slow to help people in need because of the instinct to grab your mobile phone and film incidents rather than jumping first to lend a hand.
Don’t miss the real memories thinking you can get them back later on a DVD. Studies show that you not only miss being there in the moment but your memory of such events is affected when you are viewing them through a lens instead of experiencing them through your senses. So trust your brain to be there. It will take great care of those precious memories if you let it.