Saturday, 8 February 2014

Photographs and Memories

Our boy turned 21 in January this year!  
On 8 January 1993, our son Cameron was born.  He was a delight.  A joy.  Such a precious little guy with a quirky and unique way of looking at the world.  He delighted us with his serious, "old soul" observations and ideas.  We shared our love of music, often singing him to sleep at night.  He had 2 recycled catering-tin-can drums which he would beat with free abandon.  We bought him his first baby guitar (ukulele) when he was 2. Instant Rock Star!  He'd strum away and sing some old favourites, like Carol King's "You have a friend", Purple Dinosaur Barneys "I love you" or make up his own versions of kid-rendition-songs.

African Drummer
He grew into a real old-soul, sweet and sensitive boy.  Quiet, gentle and creative.  He was always drawing and painting.  I used to create holiday gifts for him - an old paper reem box filled with paints, pencils, scissors and coloured paper - he would spend hours on end making and creating.  We recorded much of what he said, and often go back to read the precious dialogue.  It brings moments of tears, moments of laugh-out-loud memories.  I once told him, as a 2 yr old, that he was my very special boy.  I asked why he was so special - to which he replied: "Just way it is."  And "Take mine heart.  Be careful wis it."

At 4yrs of age, he told us: "One day I'll play rock 'n roll and make lots of money.  And then I'll show you how.  Do you know what's in rock 'n roll?  Drums and mean guitars.  And more drums."  At 5yrs of age, he woke up one morning and said: "I had such a good dream!  I was playing in a rock 'n roll band, me and Tom, and we were playing real mean guitars - screeching guitars."  This boy was born to make music!!

Our little boy
Then he became a teenager.  Boy, I marvelled at the great job we had done raising him.  He was 14, sensible and reasonable.  We had long daily conversations.  Other parents were regaling me with their nightmare teenage boy stories.  15 came and went.  I wondered what all the hype was about teenage boys.  Certainly was not  a problem in our home!  But smug complacency turned to sheer horror when our boy turned 16.  Overnight, he turned into a monosyllabic spotty Know-It-All like I'd read about.  He was obnoxious. Sneering at anything and everything his dad or I said.  Suddenly, we knew Nothing in his eyes.  He had  well-grounded World Theories and we had quite simply, obviously, not learned anything about life.  He was the World Authority.  On Everything.
He teased his sister to the point of tears and lashing out, daily.  He taunted his father and teased me.  He pretended not to hear anything I asked him to do.  "Cam, please go collect the laundry and then fold it, after putting your school bag away."  His response: "Whaaaa....?"
Perhaps he didn't hear me, so I would repeat myself.  A little slower this time.    Response the same.  
Perhaps he didn't catch all the nuances of what I'd asked, so I would break it up for him: "Cam.  Collect the laundry.  Fold the laundry.  Then pick up your school bag. Go!   Now!"
"Whaaaaa?" again from Cam.  I would then catch the hint of a smirk and I knew he was teasing me.  He'd heard right from the get-go.  Just having me on.  Then I'd get all angry and wag my finger and sway my hips from side to side in time to my terse commands and he'd go off to do the jobs, laughing all the way.  Boy, he sure knew how to yank my chain!!

Then I learned from Nigel Latta, not to have too many rules.  So we had only one. Respect.  Everything else was negotiable.  Like whether or not he could attend a party. What time he left and returned.  Who would take or fetch him.  Respect was non-negotiable.  And we demanded he show it.  To me.  To his dad.  To his sister (that one he never quite managed to achieve).  To our home.  To our family.  The environment. It worked.

By the time he'd finished school, he was very ready to leave home, and we too, were quite relieved that he was leaving home.  I think kids need to leave home in order to realize how good they had it at home.  Nature's way of severing ties, else we would never leave home at all.  He returned for short bursts of time, impatient to leave again.  I cherished those moments of connectedness.  Moments when he would put his arms around me for a brief moment and say; "I love you Mom!"  Moments to treasure like memory jewels.

Our son.
Three years passed by and we saw him less frequently.  He had his own flat and he was learning to do it on his own, with his mates.  His father would meet with him in his town, have a meal together and their relationship grew from one of antagonism to one of mutual respect and collaboration.  I felt a little left out.  Tried to tell myself that this is how it's supposed to happen.  We had succeeded in making him independent.  Then he met The Girl of His Dreams.  And she was The Girl of Our Dreams too!  He was proud to bring her home and we enjoyed seeing him become the young man we always hoped he'd become. Then all of a sudden, our boy turned 21!  That age that really marks the entry into adulthood.  The age when ties are severed from childhood.  We celebrated that birthday by going down a photographic memory lane.  I created a book to celebrate his first 18 years of life.  The time he shared with us.  It took days and days.  Trying to find the right photos.  The right words.  Not too soppy.  But something to convey our love for the young man who once was a babe in our arms.  He showed sincere pleasure and joy at the token.  

Rachel and Cam
Being a parent is all about holding that little hand, walking alongside your child on the path to independence.  Luckily, our journey was one of Wonderment and Awe.  We were given such a blessing to be able to walk the road to adulthood alongside this young man.  He makes us proud.  Gives us the Warm Fuzzies.  Takes our breath away when we realize we were lucky to have been chosen as his parents.  

Sheer Joy

A celebration of Cam - the photographic journal of his early life and times
The cover is taken from one of his school artworks

Pages from Cam's Book

Our Boy

PS Snapfish was the online photographic resource used to create Cam's book.

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