I have always been one of those people who love to take pictures. I think it began as a safe way to ensure I was never in front of a camera, but over the years I have learned to love photography and my camera has become my faithful friend, never far from my side. It has also become a means of income as my hobby has slowly turned into a paying gig, so I am rather protective of my camera. That being said, when 4-year-old asks to use it to take a picture, the answer is obviously “no”.
But 4-year-olds are persistent little boogers. So persistent, that you blink and they suddenly become 6-almost-7-year-olds asking to use your camera. So a couple of weeks ago when Dex asked, yet again, to take a picture, I had a moment of weakness and handed him the camera.
I was expecting him to hold it in the wrong spot, bump the lens on something, or even have trouble getting it to take a picture at all. I knew it was coming, so I was right next to him, ready to jump in and take the camera back before he destroyed it.
But that time never came. He put the strap around his neck, got down on one knee and started shooting.
“Do you need help?”
“Nope, Mama, I got it.”
“Do you know how to zoom in?”
“I just turn this part right here, right?”
“Yep. That’s the one. Do you need help with the button?”
“NO, Mom, I think I can take a picture!”
And that was it. There was no stopping him after that.
From landscape to portrait, from wide angles to zoom, he was snapping photo after photo as though he had been using that camera his whole life.
“We may have finally found his ‘thing’,” I thought to myself. He’s obviously interested in it, he’s been asking to do it for almost 3 years. Most of the time he gives up after I tell him ‘no’ one too many times. But he stuck with it, and guess what? It didn’t kill me or my camera to let him use it.
Too often, I think we tell our kids ‘no’ because we assume they are too young to try something, and, let’s be honest, it’s just easier that way. But how many things are they missing out on because we’re unwilling to let them try? Tiger Woods was 2 years old when his father first put a set of clubs in his hands, and by the age of 11 he beat his dad in a round of golf for the first time. What if he had assumed a 2-year-old was too young to play golf and that he’d just end up damaging the clubs? I know if I put myself in his shoes, I probably wouldn’t have even thought to let my kid step on a golf course until he was 11, forget having 9 years of experience under his belt by that time.
My point is this. While our kids are young, they may not know exactly what it is they’re going to love doing. They might not have any idea what sort of hobbies they’ll stick with, or what dreams they’ll follow into adulthood. But it’s our job, as their parents, as role models, as teachers and friends, to allow them to explore everything, within reason, that they show an interest in. Yes, there may be a broken camera or a couple of bent up golf clubs along the way, but if it opens the door to the very thing they excel in, it’s worth every replacement part, every repair bill, every single dime. When they discover what they’re good at and it becomes what they love, they’ll be equipped to change the world.