Saturday, May 30, 2009

do you believe in magic?


We have, right now as I type, several polaroid pictures of my girl, my big ten and a half yr old girl, from her littler days tacked up on the corkboard in my kitchen. I love a polaroid picture. I've had a camera for years, but all the moves (and then, all the moves) have made a lot of non-essentials difficult to pin down and find. We came across it just the last week or so (with a packet of unopened film in the case, even!) and so, when we packed for a cabin camping trip with some local homeschooling friends, I knew I had to bring it along.

I haven't much written about the H word here. Homeschooling. And I don't plan to write much about it. On one hand, it adds such bright gladness to our days, is such a perfect extension of the way we respect and trust and live, that it deserves not one entry, but many, a whole dedicated blog of entries. But there are plenty of homeschooling blogs out there. Just like there are plenty of baby blogs and mommy blogs and vegetarian blogs and sustainable blogs and other such blogs of various passion. And so any curious party could click and find exuberant defense of this alternative-to-the-mainstream lifestyle choice. I don't need to expound on it here. I wouldn't get it right, anyway. So, on the other hand: it's too true and personal, too beyond scrutiny and defense. It's funny, the way some people immediately launch into why they "could/would never. . . " homeschool when they discover that I do. Because truthfully? I don't care. I do what works best for my little family and I trust that you do, too. What Works Best. I think that's the essence. And I can be very rational and serious and ramble on about reading comprehension and self-esteem and understanding of chronological history and long division, and the "working best" might fit under any standardized government expectation. But the best really lives in a place you can't so much measure: in the way we get along, in my kid's resilience in all the change we've thrust upon her, in my children's sweet sibling relationship, despite their 7 year age gap. So many other things. It's not my job to make other people comfortable with my choices and so with this one, especially, when the stakes are so high and egos so fragile, I remain mostly disengaged. My kid doesn't go to school. Never has. Who knows what the future holds? Ask about Socialization at your own risk (I'm pretty far past any teeth-kicking instinct, but eye-rolling is still fair game).

ANYWAY (consider the previous paragraph one giant parenthetical aside, minus the visible parentheses). I don't care if your kids have video games (mine don't.) or cable (nope.) or some kind of crazy, innovative l.e.d. light flashing interactive toilet (uhhhh. . , i was drawing a blank on examples), no modern child is too jaded to be fascinated by the polaroid.

The technology of Polaroid is timeless, in that it's as absolutely fascinating to children now as it was to children in the seventies, the eighties. The surprise when the camera spits out the print -even though it's expected, it's a little wonderful and surprising every time-is the same. The innate urge to grab it and whap it gently around in the air remains. The thrill of watching the picture emerge, shapes like ghosts forming on the film, is just as thrilling!

It was such fun to break it out with a bunch of children around. (also, camping with a bunch of children = a good time. we almost always camp with just our little family and it was a special sort of lovely to have kids romping around together in the woods like that). The polaroid is the magic pipe and the children follow. I was disappointed to find out that the film was expired and while it still worked somewhat, the colors were wavy and yellowed. I need to get some more film soon.

Any photograph snaps a moment, the seen and unseen of one quick second, but a polaroid maybe captures something more. You push the button and *just like that* you go from looking at the moment, being in the moment, to holding the moment. And sure, I use a digital camera almost exclusively. Digital photography gratifies instantly, as well. But it's not the same. I love my little Canon Rebel, and I'm quite fond of a lot of pictures I take, but digital photos are a little, to me, like looking at a picture of a picture of a picture. Even when the quality is brilliant and the colors vibrant and beautiful, the emotion feels less authentic to me. Polaroids produce a poorer quality print, but capture emotion like no other camera can. So says me.

I'm thinking of a polaroid art project that would be fun to execute. Actually, I'm thinking of dental emergencies and joblessness and unpaid bills and this house of cards we all live in, but I'd like to be thinking of taking instant pictures and leaving them around town. I'd like forget my worries for a moment and maybe help other people forget theirs, too. Something like that.

1 comment:

peggy said...

I wish I still had my polaroid. And I love what you say about homeschooling.