My two-year-old son had discovered a brilliant new game.
He ran from the lounge in to the kitchen with a handful of buttons. Sliding in his socks on the laminate floor, he simultaneously hurled the buttons across the room, which made a very satisfying pinging sound. He and I then stood there giggling blissfully before he collected up the buttons and ran out of the room to do it all over again.
After several goes, I decided to film it on my phone. I captured it all brilliantly and decided to play it back to my son. He was delighted by it and laughed hysterically. As I tried to take the phone of him and encourage him to carry on playing, he clutched at it and pleaded to watch it again. I tried this several more times to take it off him and even slid in my socks on the floor in an attempt to egg him on, but he was only interested in the phone. The game was over.
I felt a real sense of sadness in that moment. I was clearly catastrophising, but it felt to me like he’d suddenly lost some of his innocence. He was more interested in observing the joy than being in the joyful moment itself. The image of a disinterested, lethargic and passive teenager flashed in to my mind, and I pictured him as a self-indulgent and directionless young man, spending hours trawling through YouTube and desperately curating his social media profile in the quest to gain more followers.
Then I realised my hypocrisy. I had filmed him. Why? To boastfully show others how cute my son was? I may even have intended put the video on social media myself. The very act of filming that moment of shared joy removed me slightly from it. I had broken that beautiful connection we were experiencing.