Whilst for Harry, life moves infinitely slowly, with the space between breakfast and lunch sometimes seeming to be as long as a whole year, for me it is moving very fast indeed. Growth spurts can occur during the time it takes me to gaze blankly into my coffee as I come awake, and I am always surprised at the frequency of birthdays (Harry’s and mine, in fact – how did I get so old??).
Harry turned six a couple of months ago, which for him signified the onset of adulthood, pretty much, and for me caused to me pause and think about all of the favourite things which make up his world in this moment – the objects with a story behind them, or those which represent abiding passions over the years. I gathered some of them together, bit by bit, and created a photo montage that we can keep and look at together in the years to come. It includes:
1. The Militaria collection (or a selection thereof).
For a very equable, peaceful boy, Harry has always had his head turned by a decent plastic sword. His collection spans various phases from pirate to buccaneer, brave medeival knight to Jedi knight, with silver duck tape providing necessary repairs over the years. We have all become skilled in the art of swordplay, which mostly involves bluffing, waving your weapon flamboyantly around in the air air and shouting ‘ahhaaarrgghh!’ at intervals. We are such amateurs.
I don’t think Harry consciously leans towards round-shaped food, but we certainly eat a lot of it. From Cheerios (the breakfast of champions), to cucumber – a hands-down favourite among vegetables, though both he and my husband maintain that eating lettuce is inexplicably dull and bizarre and to be avoided at all costs. Chocolate donuts are a treat breakfast for holidays only, and thus have a near-mythical status and powerful associations. The Charley Bear lunchbag is at least 4yrs old, but appears whenever we have a roadtrip to anywhere longer than an hour, and must always be filled with ‘just-in-case snacks’, although the snacks are invariably eaten and the just-in-case scenario is never actually verbalised.
3. The Passions
Lego, Thunderbirds, Star Wars and making-things-out-of-cardboard-and-paper are abiding passions of Harry’s that show no signs of abating, and in fact gain steady momentum. I captured some of them here, and expect that they’ll feature for many years to come. I pulled out and photographed some of the items from his craft stash to remind me of this year…
4. The Random Ones That Make Me Smile
Amongst the rest there are a number of items that defy easy categorisation; the microphone that we mime with on Friday nights in the kitchen whilst music blares and the family dance-off unfolds (unravels, really). The Ukelele that Father Christmas bought and which is strummed, endlessly and usually accompanied by Freddie Mercury-esque poses and strutting. The commencement of pocket money, which has led to much discussion about the joy/torture of spending vs saving, and has introduced Harry to the novel thrill of having independent wealth to jingle in your pocket as you rummage through charity shops in search of a bargain. And Uno, a card game that Harry mastered at Christmas and will now attempt to persuade all those who cross our threshold to play. He can now hold around 15 cards without dropping them all, has developed a cheery cackle to deploy gleefully whenever he is winning, and is an expert, charming manipulator who will try to recruit you to ‘join my team!’ whenever you look like you might be ahead. He is still working on the poker face.
When thinking about what to choose, it also struck me what’s missing from this list, like books; Harry loves being read to, and increasingly enjoys reading now that the struggle of navigating new words is outweighed by the momentum of those he knows and the pleasure and discovery of a new story – but at this moment there are no particular favourites or books he returns to over and over; there were in toddlerhood, and there will be again (Harry Potter, here we come..), but for now they don’t feature here.
To make the montage….
I gathered up all the items on our list and took photos of each against a contrasting-coloured background, then imported the pictures into Powerpoint (free trial here), and used the ‘remove background’ tool to isolate each picture so it would work against the white backdrop of the slide. For some of the toy figures I used stock shots online which was infinitely easier. If you’re an afficionado of Photoshop you’ll be able to create a montage like this easily using that, but I am a luddite and use .ppt.
But… the main value of this is to capture the memories and the snapshot of life at this age, so the method is much less important than the purpose. You could just as easily make a scrapbook together with photos (or drawings!) of all precious items and write a line about each (we’ll be adding notes to our montage when I paste it into this year’s Family Yearbook, so we remember the story behind each one).
Just looking at ours makes me smile – a little mistily, in truth – and is the beginning of an annual tradition, I think.
Have a great week, when it comes!