Wednesday, July 25, 2012

mama said there'd be days like this

somewhere among the old picture frames and Candyland and discarded puzzles there sits an historic videotape. as in VHS. but the fact that it's an antiquated technology means nothing to me.


what i see is a boy — well, to be more accurate hear a boy's voice — as he narrates the story of his life on a typical day at home with his parents and his sister.


i'm in there, standing in the kitchen (thin, who knew?) making a face, not wanting to be on camera, even then. 


"there's my mom," he says, "hey mom!" with an excitement i wish i still heard in his voice when he sees me. 


his sister mugs, always has, moving around the house to make sure she is in almost every scene. little brother swings the awkward camera — carried on his shoulder, yes it's THAT old — around to his dad who is reading the paper. always.


what i love about this old tape is the boy's voice as he moves around our house recording life as he sees it. he even turns it around on himself, his blue eyes out of focus he's so close to it. what this boy couldn't have done if we'd had iPhones back in the 90s. 


the future director
this same boy would go on to make other movies with video cameras we gave him as he grew older, gifts we hoped would be the spark to ignite what we knew was in that boy somewhere. a take-off on the day's news. hilarious 'ads' for prom, a mockumentary about squirrels overtaking campus that didn't go over well with his professor (guess she'd never seen Christopher Guest's work.) i dreamed he'd be the next Spielberg, but he wouldn't have a thing to do with my dreams.  


but in the end, the boy got the college degree in broadcast, knowing after chemistry and geometry classes in high school that he had to take a different route.
he wanted to be behind the camera, he said, though he had a great distrust of tv news. 


only those jobs not in news and behind the camera weren't so easy to find.


when i started my church communications job, i had an idea that we needed a video history of the church, so i set about scanning old photos and taught myself a little bit about iMovie, in hopes that my son could help me smooth out the kinks. i think it was during that project that i learned this mother and son really don't work that well together. when i asked him a question, he would often say: people (meaning him) get college degrees in this, mom. it's not supposed to be easy.


back in june, i tried again, doing all the front work for a video for my parents, hoping he would come in at the end and do his magic. at the time, he was working his regular job in internet marketing and spending nights and weekends helping his high school classmate john on a video project to promote a new app john and his dad had developed. it's a neat game you play to earn points for saving energy — and eventually money on your power bill. 


so i knew he was busy. but family trumps, right?


one night in June we sat at the kitchen table, transferring my files to his computer. it was supposed to be seamless, (or so the directions said) but in the end, our two Macs weren't talking well with each other — could have been the people who ran them — and my carefully crafted movie wouldn't transfer to his Final Cut Pro. over the next few days he would work to recreate the story i had spent a month working on myself — i imagine the whole time he was thinking what an idiot his mother is. knows just enough to screw things up but not enough to fix it.


the day we were to present the video, he asked if i'd like to see it. so i sat in his beach house room and watched the story of my parents' life unfolding on the screen, to music he had chosen (i did have a say in it.) and the tears just came right on out of my head. there were a few hiccups only a mother could see, but i loved it, as did my whole family. we watched it over and over in the last days of our time together, marveling at what a 'pro' job he'd done.


and then we all went back to work.


all this time, for months really, my son had been using his off time, at least some of it, on the video project for john. is it ready? can we see it? we would ask. no, soon, he'd say. 


soon came last week, in the middle of a crowded lunch spot as i sat with two good friends. i'd been telling them about the video i'd seen the day before on the app's website, a cute stop-action spot starring a couple of graham's friends, and i picked up my phone to show them the work he'd done.


turns out, i had the wrong video, because a new one had popped up, and i saw for the first time what the boy who started out at 7 years old with the camera on his shoulder was actually doing with that college degree. you can watch it here


as we watched, my friends and i laughed, recognizing faces from my son's high school class, and then, well, i just couldn't stop watching. back at work, i showed it to everyone i saw. my son did this. isn't it good? i had, i hate to admit now, become one of those mothers. the ones who can't shut up about how fabulous their children are and how they are single-handedly saving the world. 


i don't really expect my boy to save the world. just change your corner is what i am always telling my kids. the fact that he's a good friend and an honorable person (he even called up the power company to tell them they had credited him for paying a bill he hadn't paid)... is enough to make me pretty daggone proud to be his mama.


but how to describe the moment you know your child has found his professional calling? pride, of course, excitement for what lies ahead as he pursues it, hoping, expecting, he surely will. but it just feels so much deeper than that. it's your own understanding that what the parent saw way-back-when in the boy, well now the boy finally sees it for himself. and believes it about himself. and that, folks, can be life-changing. for both mothers and their kids. 


the fact that he created this little commercial — with many, many helpful hands — and it had nothing do to with his day job seems a minor detail. 


'i don't want to take my hobby and make it my work,' he told me when he graduated from college. why ever not? i said then, think now. why would you ever not want to do something you love doing every single day and make money doing it? it would make things so much easier. not that it's not hard work to do the work you love, but the finished product is so much more rewarding when you hang up your shingle at the end of the day if you love what you are doing while the shingle sways in the breeze.


of course, he wasn't listening to me then. maybe not even now. but last night when he came over to break bread with us, i could sense some pride in his own voice at what he'd accomplished.


'they say they want to do another one,' he said to us as he was leaving.


and this mama knows who'll they'll go to for that.



writemuch.blogspot is the original work of author susan byrum rountree. all written work and photography is copyright protected and can only be used with written permission of the author.