By Eileen Turay of Liv and Leen
A family of five stood with their three daughters (aged approximately 3, 6, and 8) in line at the pumpkin patch. They had their cute little matching dresses on with their hair pulled back with matching bows, and they were arguing about who would get to go sit on the tractor first. “You will go last this time,” Mom said to the oldest, “because you just went first on the other one.” She whined and pouted, but she stayed in line. They were up next.
Dad grabbed the middle child and stuck her on first. “Say cheese,” he said as he pointed his phone at her, and before she could even pretend to steer it left, right, left, right, he yanked her down and went to grab the next girl. Just like her sister prior and the one who would follow her, he plopped her up, forced her to pretend she was enjoying being rushed on the thing she’s waited so patiently for, and took her right off again.
As fast as they excitedly walked up to drive the tractor, they were equally rushed to leave it. In that moment, it dawned on me: we are constantly so busy getting the best pictures for the notorious annual Facebook celebrations that we are forgetting to have the memories that drive these pictures in the first place. “Go sit on that pumpkin! Put your face in that scarecrow head hole! Hold your pumpkin and smile in the great lighting! Ok, let’s go home and upload these…”
As you read this, you probably laugh as much as you feel slightly guilty because there is a 99 percent chance that your new profile picture is one of your kiddos sitting on a pumpkin (I already uploaded mine, too). But what I want to know is, how long did you stay? Did you let her run around barefoot, going in the same bounce house 37 times? Did you let him touch every single pumpkin until he found the exact one he wanted? Or did you get your pictures, buy some popcorn, and rush home?
While I was standing in line waiting for my daughter’s turn to ride the tractor, I began to think about how I was about to do the SAME thing: put her on it, beg her to smile or make a cute face, and then get her down so we could go home. So I chose to do something else.
My husband plopped her on it, and I made the conscious choice to live in that moment with them both. She excitedly turned the wheel left, right, left, right, left, right (and I am certain she ran over every imaginary farm animals in her path). She truly enjoyed every minute she had on that tractor. She was looking for the pedals, moving the shifter, and trying to understand what she was experiencing. It was perfect. It was a memory for her and all of us.
Yes, I began to feel the stares of the impatient parents who were waiting to rush their children on and off the tractor for their next IG upload, but I didn’t care. My child was doing something that she enjoyed. She would actually be able to look at the pictures of her on the tractor in the future and say, “I remember doing that! It was so fun… I got to drive it” vs. “Remember that one time you made me take a picture on that thing?”
“Back in my day,” as our parents would say, pictures had one purpose: to be a visual reminder of the memories we experienced with the people we loved. So why do we now feel the need to take pictures just for the sake of having pictures? The experiences surrounding these images have become about as real as the boobs in Orange County.
I’m not saying don’t post cute pumpkin patch pictures—I did it, too, and I think they are adorable. I am saying, however, to remember to actually do something worth taking the pictures of. What’s the point of the #tractorride if your child was #fakesmiling?
Make memories. Then share them.
This post was originally published on Liv and Leen.