This is a letter I sent to Lisa Edwards. She runs the program "Photographing Tweens" that I am taking. One of the questions is, "Why do you feel passionate/emotional about photographing Tweens?"
This post is not meant to bring tears or make you feel bad. It is meant to explain why I think it's important to take beautiful photos of children specifically between the ages of 10-13. My story was to explain why they could benefit from these photos, instilling them with confidence during a time of self doubt.
Here is my answer...
"You know, I got to thinking while I was in the shower (why do people do their best thinking in the bathroom???) and I have already started to notice what you were saying about the forgotten tween years with Brooklyn who is not even 9. I think this is more noticeable in families with multiple children. Your firstborn is typically your most obedient child, they are the ones who have taught YOU how to be a parent after all, so they typically behave the best and have been though the most. You have made your biggest mistakes with them, they probably are a bit more afraid of you, LOL.
Then the second one comes and he or she is a time sucker and attention thief. If you have a third…well…they are the baby. No matter how old they get. They will always be the baby. Family members come over and you watch the awkwardness and hurt feelings as the oldest walks away with their head down while grandma gushes over baby and dismisses the “irritating 4 year old.” What once was cute is no longer cute when they do it, cuteness comes from younger sibling. You ask them to step away while you take photos of brother. Family members say, "Brooklyn, please move out of the photo, this is for mom and younger brother." The forgotten process has started. Insecurity and jealousy is born. This is not intentional. It is simply the way of life. However, it still hurts your tween's feelings. You love all your children equally. Your family members love all your children. Older children (at least in our home) simply behave and do their own thing. This is a learned behavior, you have been praising them for doing this exact thing all along, you have taught them to be a good boy and go watch a show while you take care of brothers. Can’t you see I am busy???
Before you know it, two days have passed and you find yourself asking, “have I given Brooklyn a hug!!!” Time continues to go on and oldest begins to have an inner battle about being the oldest and not receiving the same attention. I also think they begin to think because they are older, they don’t believe they NEED all the hugs, cuddles and kisses the youngest get. They become the helper. How many times have we said, “Brooklyn, your the oldest…it’s time you help out around here." "Brooklyn, you are not a baby, stop acting like that." "Brooklyn, your too old for that." Or my all time most hated... "Grow Up!" Older brother is told to stop a certain behavior while younger brother gets told he is adorable for that very same behavior. Confusing right? They become aloof. Quiet. Bigger. Older. They want to be the “good” kid so they stay quiet and do as they are told. They are unsure of how they should behave. They see you gush over the youngest, talking baby talk and adoring the tiny feet and sweet little cheeks. They can't help but realize they do not receive the same attention.
You wake up and you open your eyes to a 13 year old and you think, my gosh… a week ago you were 8. Where did those years go? The middle school years start and that already insecure child walks into insecurity and bully hell. Alone...
Maybe this is the rambling of a mother who feels guilt or never feels she does enough or maybe this is truly what happens in families with multiple children whether parents want to believe it or not. Do not get me wrong, Brooklyn is very loved and knows he is loved. He gets tons of attention. He does very well in school and is a super sweet child. He is not neglected. I think this is just the process of getting older on a certain level. It has nothing to do with love and has all to do with being a busy mom who takes care of everything during the day. It has to do with growing older, even if your only 10. Parents can only do so much. We are only human.
I see your point on making them feel important, beautiful, comfortable and loved during this time. These are the lost, forgotten, awkward years. They are photographed as a baby and toddler. They are photographed as a senior and at sporting events. But where are all the photos with big teeth and awkward hair. I remember being that age and I felt so ugly. I was made fun of for EVERYTHING. From bad teeth to being flat chested. I was told I was ugly and too pale. Wow...your freckles are disgusting. Really????
We can make these years enjoyable so when they look back the photos will tell a different story. The photos will tell a story of beauty and inspiration, innocence and aspiration. The stories we tell ourselves about our lives change with time. Remember the telephone game? We can save these photos for when they are older and say, "See, look how beautiful you were." We can tell them those years were not bad, see... look at your beautiful hair, your gorgeous eyes. Look how strong and determined you look in your swimsuit for the swim team. You were a rockstar!!!!
This is why I want to do these sessions.
Just thought I would share.
For the record, I NEVER tell my kids to grow up. I can not stand that. It was told to me over and over and is now a pet peeve.