Around 3 this afternoon, Ava decided she should be "awake" and not nap anymore. "Go back to bed Ava..." I say seriously. I hear her race back to her room, fling herself on her mattress, and cry into her pillow. 30 seconds later - silence. And I make a bet with myself that I'll see her at least 2 more times. 5 minutes later - we hear the floor boards creaking. Ava. Slowly inching towards the office door. I am amazed at her patience to walk ever so slowly...
I look up from my monitor and wait to see her curly hair.
"Mommy. I have to take a picture."
There she was, holding her camera - still in its bright yellow case with the strap around her shoulder like a purse. She said it so matter-of-factly, that I considered her request for a split second. Aaron rushed her back to her bedroom - and we just finished the second round.
An hour and a half later - Ava woke up from her very delayed siesta. This time however, she confidently and politely pulls the door shut behind her, silently announcing to us that her nap is over. She struts into the office and greets me with a warm smile. And I can't help but notice, the chunky orange camera weighing her hands down.
"I'm going to take a picture of you Mommy."
And at that - I pull away from my computer desk and give her a big cheesy smile - closeup.
"It's not working," she says frowning and snapping with the camera still pointed at me. And sure enough - it wasn't. Her camera was full!
Did this toy digital camera made just-for-kids really work and store pictures? We had to see it to believe it. Aaron and I were both anxious to download and see where photography 101 has taken Ava since we presented it to her as a gift 6 months ago for her 2nd birthday... It felt like I found an old 110 roll at the bottom of a shoebox and was about to uncover moments of the past. Remember 110s with cameras we slid in and out?!
After a quick download - we were able re-live stories and memories made at different points in our lives... all from Ava's view.
Ava in her floral corduroy dress, walking outside our front door with her camera in her hand, and me yelling behind her - "hold the camera up Ava!"... Aaron pretending she caught him by surprise or peeking at her after crashing on the floor and losing from a wrestling match... Noah in the middle of exploring - only to look up and see the toy he'd rather have is in her hands...
Lots of the photos were too dark or too white to make out. And of the few we could, actually turned out to be a gallery of wonderful moments of us posing for Ava and not a camera we all thought - didn't really take pictures...
Photography is yet another beautiful process and art we can do together - as a family. Whether we're having dinner or walking in the park - all are moments captured from a child's view we can only dream of having yet again...
Here's what we did:
1. We bought her VTECH's Kidizoom Camera - mainly because it's big, chunky and orange! It comes complete with a carrying case, USB cable, and a built-in memory card so curious fingers don't wander. Age recommendation is 3+ but I would recommend starting as soon as possible. These days we are constantly shoving a digital camera in our kids' faces - so they are already adept to the routine. Give them the same chance.
2. One of the neat features of the camera is its ability to help children point and shoot. With one setting, you can view a "crown" on the display screen and show your child how the "crown" should be placed above the person's head to help them center their photos... There are also games installed as well - but I'd refrain from showing this feature - after all, the point is to have them engage with their environment - not a display screen.
3. Yes - it takes videos too! The memory capacity is at around 9MB - Ava ended up with more than 300 shots and 4 videos.
4. We make a decent effort to tow her camera every time we leave the house. For me, it's easy to carry my hand-held digital in my purse and pull out as needed. For them, it's another responsibility. Teach them to care for their gift by keeping it in its case when not in use and to have fun with it when it is... We keep hers hanging by door to help her remember. And when they try to reach for yours to play with, remind them they have their very own... it doesn't work all the time - which is why we bought extra warranty coverages for all our cameras. Nonetheless, it makes Ava feel independently proud to have her very own... And her mom even more so.