Do you ever get bored to tears with them? Some people have such a love of showing their dear little Emilys and Elizas and Jacks in every costume they’ve ever worn and at every occasion they have ever passed five minutes in, that one almost wonders the camera didn’t wear out. There’s Emily on donkey-back; Emily playing with her doll; Emily eating jammed-toughs; and Emily see-sawing in the garden. There’s Eliza digging on the sands; Eliza playing at ball with the cat; Eliza washing doll’s clothes; and Eliza skipping.
You say “How sweet” and smile joyously over the eight snapshots. You think that’s the last of them; but it isn’t.
“My three pickles taken together,” carols the happy parent, as she presses upon you, Emily, Eliza and Jack building castles on the shore; Emily, Eliza and Jack driving in the jingle; Emily, Eliza and Jack in the apple tree; Emily, Eliza and Jack paddling; Emily, Eliza and Jack at lessons.
And you gasp. Then you remind yourself how kind the hurler has always been to you. You make yourself remember the day when the coals didn’t come and she sent the snapshotees over to your house with five logs of wood. You pull yourself together; anyway, that’s the lot, you tell yourself; and you say in brave, clear tones, “What a wonderful collection!”
“That’s not half!” is the triumphant cry. ” Look at these!”
The table, cosy-corner and surrounding chairs are grey with them. Eliza in her night-gown at the age of four.; Emily in her night-gown at the age of tw; Jack in his night-gown at the age of one. Emily as a fisher-girl; Eliza as a pixie; Jack as a Knght of the round table (though why this is averred, you can’t imagine, unless it’s from invisible atmosphere surrounding silver-paperd shield and helmet). You turn over and ejaculate, “Wonderful!”
“Not at all” returns Mother; “they’ve got their costumes upstairs. Run and put them on, dears and show dear Mirabella.” and the three trip away to “dress up”; but you, if you are wise and have a little spirit left, rise firmly and say you will run in another day. The Mother pities you. Such a lot of innocent childish beauty and charm. You, remembering those logs, kiss her and call her “a devoted Mother”.
But on your way down the road you wonder a little. Aren’t children put too much in the foreground nowadays? Can you blame them if they usurp the attention of grown-ups until the visitors, who call for a chat with their Mother, say uncomplimentary things under their breath as they pass the doorstep homewards?
Lillian Gard, 1919.