"Let me take a picture of you."

I have heard a few times about these mythical creatures that willingly face cameras and smile.  When I planned to have a child I dreamed that I would give birth to one of those mythical creatures.  And although I have literally taken thousands of pictures of my little man, the quickest way to get him to enact evasive manuevers is to utter the words, "Let me take a picture of you." 

My child could sit still for hours playing with his toys, putting together a puzzle or two, reading a book, watching a movie but if I so much as intimate that I might take a picture of him there is a high likelihood that my picture will contain a bunch of blurry limbs or only half a head.  Don't get me wrong, there are brief, fleeting moments when the stars align or I have something perfect to bribe him with and I get the most amazing picture.  But that picture is probably one good one in a string of at least 50 bad ones.

Today at a birthday party I watched as almost every mother tried to get a good picture of their son or daughter.  The words, "Say Cheese!" and "Look at Mommy!" were being thrown around at such a crazy rate that I think some kids couldn't tell if it was their mom yelling it and which way they should be looking.  One boy was sitting on some playground equipment up high with the birthday boy playing and having fun.  The boy's mom spotted the cuteness from across the room and jumped into action, leaving her table of pizza and drinks behind unmanned, dodging around the plethora of kids playing games and practically leaping over every other obstacle in her way to attempt to get that one perfectly adorable picture.  Of course, as I could have predicted if it was my son in this situation, the moment she yelled up to them, "Let me take a picture of you playing with K," that little boy ran for the hills!  She was left with only a blur on her iPhone while still begging for them to come back.

This all makes me wonder why it is so important for me to get the perfect picture.  I have always been mildly obsessed with pictures.  I love posing for them.  I love taking them.  I love looking at them.  I love hanging them in my house.  I LOVE purchasing frames for them.  But why?  Most people enjoy pictures but don't constantly think to take out their camera every time their kid moves.  And yet, here I am with thousands (literally thousands) of pictures of my little man and his daily activities.

A picture doesn't always catch the essence of a moment.  A picture of my son baking cookies with his Bubbe can't fill the room with the smell of cookie dough.  A picture of my son and his Daddy playing an arcade game at the movie theater can't fill the room with the laughter they both shared as the motorbike they rode swayed back and forth.  A picture of my son's first smile that hangs on our wall cannot fill the room with the longing my husband felt that day as he was heading back to work after taking paternity leave.  A picture of my son smiling, looking straight at the camera, standing perfectly doesn't fill the room with all the begging that happened to catch that perfect moment.  Pictures don't capture a moment of time, they capture literally a split second of time.  But that split second of time is all that is needed to transport you back to that moment of time, to fill the room with the laughter, the smells, the feelings.

This is why I take on the mission of the perfect picture.  Because I find great joy in not just the perfect picture but also the 50 not-so-great ones as well.  Each picture - good or bad - takes me back to a moment.  So, I continue to chase my little man yelling, "Let me take a picture of you."

(And I thank my lucky stars every single day, every single picture taken that I am raising my son in the age of digital photography!!  Who could afford 50 bad pictures on film!)