Father Time is a weekly column dedicated to the concept of time in a parent’s life, particularly a father’s life. The point of view comes from a father of two young sons, both under three-years-old, and how time really is just that: a concept.
Baby books are basically time capsules. It’s a place to capture the moment in time when your children are children. So as we shift from doing this in old-fashioned books, how are we preserving the memories of our children’s lives so that us, and them, can enjoy them in the future?
For starters, everybody lives on Facebook, and people are already creating accounts for their children, or for their families as a whole. There are also family blogs, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat accounts. (I swear I wouldn’t know how my nieces and nephew are growing up without Snapchat.)
But how are people making the preservation process even more intimate while still in the realm of the un-erasable internet? As passé as it sounds, there’s e-mail. One evening, my wife was on Google opening e-mail accounts. We each have a few, not to mention joint accounts, junk accounts, etc. I asked why we needed more, and she said they weren’t for us, but for our sons. She wanted to capture their names before someone else did. Ingenious! She managed to snag a few combinations of our sons’ names, and so now they’re ours. Whether our boys will want them, only time will tell.
So what to do with those e-mail addresses now? One idea floating in the parenting cyber world is to record daily or weekly stories about your child in an e-mail that you send to a private account. You can attach photos or videos to that e-mail and keep it there, virtually forever. What parents then do is give their child, as a gift, access to that e-mail account when they turn a certain age.
Another method my cousin uses for his family is to record video and load it to a private YouTube channel. That way, they’re for your eyes only, and the treasure 50 years from now, will be the trove of video clips you can all sit around and watch wistfully at family reunions, the way we used to watch VHS tapes, and how our parents used to watch 8mm film strips. That is, of course, if YouTube will still be around in 50 years. (I’m betting it will, whereas you’d be hard-pressed to find a VCR anywhere these days.)
With an infant and a toddler in the house, one way I keep track of their milestone-a-minute lives is to enter them into a note taking app (I use Simplenote). It’s just the highlights of their developmental leaps, and the dailies read like a Cliffs Notes of baby firsts. Plus, it will help when we sit down to actually fill up their baby books. The real ones made of bound paper.
About those baby books. I’d love to say that my wife and I have been super good parents and filled them up with the photos and clippings and tidbits about our sons, but the sad reality is we simply haven’t. The books are in our bedroom, loosely assembled, mementos and blurbs almost organized. Key word: almost.
Time has just marched on, and we haven’t found more of it to work on them. But then I realized, if our children learn how to swipe before they know how to wipe, perhaps they’ll find just as much posterity in virtual scrapbooks versus the traditional ones. Besides, when they’re 22-years-old and finally want to learn their story, will it matter if that history is in a book or in cyberspace?
I suppose it won’t. And as much time as I’ve spent rebuking technology, social media, and the like, it’s here to stay, and we have to embrace it. We have to integrate it into our children’s lives, too, whether we like it or not.
One of these days in the far distant future, when our little ones are working at those jobs that haven’t even been invented yet (!), they’ll have their baby books at their fingertips. It will be like the story books have been saying all along: our love will always find them, no matter where they go.
Photo credit: Robert Couse-Baker.