I love photography. It is no secret when looking through my blog that I have a good quality camera and I have spent time developing my photography skills. I count myself lucky to have this talent, to see the world in a series of photographs waiting to be taken. That is one of my strengths, but I recognise that not everyone has this talent. Some don’t have the money to invest in cameras, some will study and practice but feel like they’re not progressing and others won’t enjoy being behind the camera. You know what? That’s okay. I am the main photographer in the family and I share the photos with them, so we don’t need everyone taking photographs. There are other ways to record family life; methods that I struggle with, and I want to focus on one of those areas today:
I kept a diary as a young teenager and my entries were short and boring. My whole day summed up in a single sentence along the lines of, “School again, it was boring.” Repeated for a week or more. There was no documenting the friends I hung around with, our favourite bands at the time, the clubs we were involved with – I have to turn to my school reports and my memory for information along those lines.
I remember reading a book, ‘The Diving Bell and the Butterfly’, about a man who became totally paralysed apart from one eyelid. In this paralytic state, spending his days lying on his back in a hospital bed, moving only one eyelid – he wrote a book! A book that was infinitely more interesting than the sentence I mustered about my very busy and active school days. I knew something had to change in the way I recorded my life! I found photography, and my record lies in the photos I take and the blogposts I write.
My Mum had similar thoughts when reading the book and she changed the way she recorded her day. She looked for the incidents that made her smile or made her want to scream with frustration. These were the moments that stuck out from her day, the stories that were worth recording. The most memorable story, I think, for my brothers and me, was ‘Never Eat Shredded Wheat’, which was a conversation between my Mum and my brother, Joe. Joe is now grown and has a small blonde toddler, plus a smaller baby. That day, many years ago, when my mum got home from the school run, she went to the computer and started typing. She knew if she didn’t get it down right then she would forget the details. I think that day we had baked beans on toast for dinner (the time spent writing ate into dinner time (pun intended)), but we survived and have this amazing account to pass down through the generations. I share it below, with her permission, to hopefully inspire you to look for that one incident that you want to remember from today, or this week, and tell that story.
Never Eat Shredded Wheat
“Never eat Shredded Wheat, never eat Shredded Wheat, never eat Shredded Wheat.” My son’s small blonde head bobs up and down beside me as he gently bounces his body in time to the rhythm of the rhyme he is chanting. “Never eat Shredded Wheat, never eat Shredded Wheat. Mum, Mrs Fish says that we should never eat Shredded Wheat, why?”
“No Joe, I don’t think that Mrs Fish meant you shouldn’t eat Shredded Wheat” I reply. “Have you been doing Geography today?”
“Geography is studying maps and learning about other countries and where other people live. Have you been doing that today?”
“Yes” my son replies. I detect a note of bewilderment in his voice, whether due to my seemingly miraculous knowledge of his day, or whether due to my apparent change of subject, I am not sure. “But why must we never eat Shredded Wheat?” He persists.
“We can eat Shredded Wheat. That is just a rhyme to help you remember North, South, East, and West, do you remember Mrs Fish explaining that?”
“Oh yes” revelation and enlightenment light up his voice. “There was another verse too – something about football, but I can’t remember that one.” Joe’s face scrunches up with concentration and he mumbles to himself as he tries to conjure up the elusive words. “No” he exclaims, “I can’t remember that one.”
Briefly there is silence in the car and I smile to myself at his innocent confusion.
“But why must we never eat Shredded Wheat?”
“Joseph,” the use of my son’s full christian name joins a slight tone of exasperation. “You can have anything you like for breakfast. I don’t care whether you have Frosties, Honey Nut Loops or Shredded Wheat for breakfast. Mrs Fish doesn’t care either.”
“Yes she does, she said so, she said we should never eat Shredded Wheat.” Joe is adamant about this point. I was not there and so I obviously do not understand.
“No Joe, Mrs Fish was trying to teach you something. The letters at the beginning of the words -never eat Shredded Wheat- are the same letters as North, East, South, and West. I learnt that verse at school too.” I make a mental note to ask Mrs Fish about the football verse – it sounded more suitable.
“Did Jesus eat Shredded Wheat?” Now it is my turn to be bewildered. I open my mouth and do a fair impression of a goldfish searching for air, as I search for the right words.
“No, Jesus would not have eaten Shredded Wheat. It hadn’t been made then.”
“Jesus gave His disciples bread didn’t He?”
“Yes Joe, that’s right.” I am relieved that the conversation is turning to a subject less prone to confusion.
“So why wasn’t Jesus allowed to eat Shredded Wheat?”
There is a point where every mother knows that her child’s teacher has won. Her word is law and she stands supreme. She is all-powerful and who are we, as mere mothers, to question her authority in the eyes of our child? I concede the point, indeed I concede the battle. At that moment I want nothing more than to stand on the front seat of our moving car, put my head through the sunroof and shout out to the whole town, “I do not care about Shredded Wheat, we do not like Shredded Wheat and I never want to hear about Shredded Wheat again!” Instead, I take a deep breath and try to change the subject: “What do you want for tea Joe?” His reply is instantaneous.
“Well I don’t want Shredded Wheat.”