Every parent should be forced to watch themselves interact with their child on video. I've found that it opens up a whole new window into our parenting style. Working with our RDI consultant requires that we videotape various activities that we set up each day, then once a week we upload them to a file server and send them off to her for review. She then sends her assessments back to us and we use the feedback as a learning tool for thinking about our next activities. So far it has worked fairly well. In the beginning I set up the activities and pushed the record button judiciously. But after a few weeks I started getting a bit looser in my recording style so that now I often will just have the camera set up in a corner of the playroom or kitchen, hit the record button and see if we can capture something that meets our objectives. But even if we don't, if nothing really gels like it should, I still find it fascinating for the small picture it has given me of Oliver and myself -- and to a lesser extent other members of the family.
For one thing, I'm not such a bad mother. I mean, I know that but I also know how impatient and frustrated I can get. But I was really stunned one evening recently when I was reviewing the video of an activity that we were working on that never really came together. I was showing it to Nik and describing to him how frustrated I had gotten at one point. "Well, you don't look frustrated," he told me. And I looked down at my own image smiling serenely and had to agree. On the inside I was jumping up and down, stamping my feet and screaming: "Just cooperate, will you?!!" But on the outside I was smiling and nodding and quietly humming The Wheels on the Bus.
Another thing: when Oliver is really engaged in an activity with me or his father or RT he looks just like any other little boy who enjoys spending time with his family. We play a little and during the short pauses in action he turns and smiles up at us, beaming from ear to ear. Or he is all concentration as he carefully places each piece of pepperoni just so on top of the pie so as cover the maximum amount of real estate. Or he jumps up and down, all excited energy, as we discover the cache of hidden eggs that we will now get to break for our lunchtime omelet.
And there are other things, too, like how bossy I can be when it is Nik's turn to orchestrate an activity. Or how I sometimes talk differently to Oliver than I do to Sam. And did I mention how bossy I can be?
We are just four weeks into our video adventure but I can already see the evidence of our hard work and I'm looking forward to seeing where it will take us.