Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Making memories

A lot of my parenting techniques use digital imaging to help my kids gain a sense of control and ownership over their lives and their knowledge. For instance, each time we travel we make a travel "book" with pictures of parts of our trip and a narrative co-written by myself and Silly. I started these because when the kids were young they often wouldn't see one side of the family or another for a year at a time and I wanted them to remember their relatives, to have a face to go with the voice on the phone, and also to remember their experiences. We always take them with us when we travel because we believe traveling is part of their education, part of the gift we give to them, part of making them feel comfortable in and excited about the world. So I wanted them to remember their travels.

The kids love to take out the books and read them. They are kids' books, told from their perspective (or what I imagine their perspective to be), full of images and words about the food we ate, a "wet paint" sign, the toys they played with or the gifts received, which playground was the most fun, which animals they encountered.

Naughty started preschool recently. Naughty is a tough little cookie. He doesn’t deal with changes very well, he’s very attached to mommy, wanting to “nurt” all the time, he has a tendency to freak out suddenly and unexpectedly. So I made him a “Max goes to school” book, with a story about how he’s a big boy so he gets to go to school like his big brother, with pictures of the school, his teacher, his classroom, the other kids in his class, the activities he would do, and the order of his day at school. It helped him with the transition a lot (he still cried for the first month).

Anyway, the point of this was that at the end of my last post, I was wondering what forms of remembering my kids will rely on. And I started to think that while we and previous generations may have relied on monuments and places, with digital technology people are much more able to make the narration of memories a part of everyday life. Forget about photo albums you dust off every time Aunt Sally comes to visit. We have pictures on our cell phone, e-mail newsletters we send to family, multi-media slideshows complete with soundtrack. If these books last (I bind them now because the first few I made were real photos on construction paper and these fell apart as they were thumbed) my kids will have all these narratives of trips they took with their grandparents. But how does that change the form of the memory? Does it become more visual than say olfactory? Some of my memories from childhood are from photographs -- I know, because I can see myself in them, as if from the third person.

This blog seems to ravel and unravel... just as my posts were becoming more focused, more subject-oriented... I’m back to stream of consciousness. The funny thing is that I still have about 25 topics -- real subjects -- I’ve been meaning to blog on and haven’t had the time. Yes, I know, if I wrote shorter posts...

1 comment:

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