Friday, August 19, 2005

All Those Baby Pictures

Who can resist snapping candid shots of baby at every turn? I don't know about you, but my drawers and cupboards are chock full of great pictures of my girls when they were very small. You can turn back the hands of time when you look through the collection, and almost forget that the oldest one is now a young woman headed off to college next week. The middle daughter is a varsity cheerleader who pulls down her skirt and holds it so that the junior high football team can't "oggle her butt" and the youngest, my baby, is a four-star soccer player. It seems like only yesterday that they were just born, teensy little girls with all of the possibilities of life spread out before us.

I was looking through that cabinet the other day. Actually, when you read that, you probably don't get the full impact. When I say "looking through the picture cabinet," what I really mean is that I needed to find some specific pictures. I opened the door to the cabinet, and the entire collection came sliding out onto my lap. I have to confess at this point that, while I enjoy taking the pictures and collecting them, I don't often take time for details like organizing, scrapbooking, or putting them into albums. The entire collection from the birth of the eldest until the present is stacked up in that cabinet in precarious piles, and finding any specific pictures is like finding the proverbial needle in a haystack. I look through the whole collection when they slide out like that! But it has its advantages, too.

I was searching for pictures of my oldest daughter to represent her growing up years, since a friend had offered to scan them in and make a slide show to display at her graduation party. What a trip down memory lane! I found photos of her and her friends from birth onward. There were birthday parties, campouts, vacations, and trips to Grandma's house. There were scenes of Christmases and celebrations, and pictures of Halloween costumes over the years. Her entire life was neatly chronicaled in the photos and it was pretty easy to find just the right ones to put into the show.

We had to choose the best of the best, since she and two of her best friends were having their party and hence the slide show together. There were shots of her in the tub and pictures of her gazing in wonder at some display at the local children's museum. There were snaps of her in the middle of birthday parties and in contemplative moments on her own. And there was my personal favorite choice for the "embarrass your teen one last time" award: the picutre of her sitting on her little potty chair in the trunk of someone's car when we were desparate during toilet training. What a hoot!

My one regret is that I didn't take a minute to label these wonderful scraps of life. I can guess at the dates based on the printing date on the envelopes, but some of the names of other kids and the circumstances of the pictures are lost forever, even now. And the three girls look so much alike that I will admit to having difficulty telling some of their pictures apart without some frame of reference. They are definitely sisters, and with all of the hand-me-down clothing that they wore when they were little, I can only guess about who is who in some of the snapshots.

So take a bit of been-there-done-that advice. Label your pictures! You think you will remember everything about those moments, but you won't. Write down when and where the picture was taken. Jot the names of those other kids on the back. Put a little caption on there about what was going on. You'll eventually be really glad that you did, and your kids will really appreciate it when the time comes that they inherit that shoebox (or appliance box, in our case!) of disorganized pictures. Even if you can't find the time/energy/inclination to put them into those albums, simply giving yourself a few clues like that will help you to recall what was going on. And those notes will give you enough information that you can organize your pictures "someday..."

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