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Boy Wonder: The Possibility of A Childhood

keith harmon snow | Massachusetts, United States

At 28 months old, our son Birch exudes confidence as he explores the rail bed and the long trains parked at the Boston & Maine Railroad freight yard in East Deerfield, Massachusetts. In his left hand he carries an iron spike he discovered on the rocky rail bed; to him this is a mysterious artifact and a treasure. Birch jumped from one wooden plank to the next, between the tracks, and he picked up spikes, and rocks, and threw them down on the iron rails, cackling with joy at every clank and bang and the echoes and reverberations of the cold steel. His favorite game was to walk the "balance beam" of the rails. These forms of play in the out-of-doors offer children rich experiences that enhance their senses, their awareness, motor skills, self-assurance and curiosity.

This personal glimpse into the first 38 months of the life of our son offers a meditation on wonder, joy, curiosity and childhood, and the images testify to the privileges afforded to a white middle-class child born into post-modern materialist culture.  

Documentary photography focuses on suffering and injustice: deprivation, disease, loss, addiction, and violence prevail, and it is essential to document stolen childhoods. Documentary portraits of thriving children are less common.

Child abuse and addictions reach epidemic proportions in Western societies, coupled with the pathology(s) of whiteness, so this is also a commentary on our attempt at an inclusive conscious parenting.

Photos speak to the gifts that we seek to give this child: e.g. safety, security, health, freedom, awareness, curiosity, warmth, nourishment, adventure, confidence, self-assurance, wonder, sanctuary, dreams, abundance, compassion, consciousness, and an enhanced capacity for communication and being.

These comprise a nurtured, safe, fulfilling childhood, with healthy developmental opportunities, and are basic human rights for all children. I would like to think that they are the foundations of a conscious mature compassionate expansive humanity.

My special love and deep appreciation go to the mother of our child, Chaya Leia Aronson, for her dedication to our child's life.  No father could ask for or receive a more beautiful expression of love and caring than our son receives from his mother.

The care for our son began the very day his mother learned that she was pregnant -- in every way that she took care of her self, in the choices that she made and the ways that she in turn took care of the developing child inside her body.  She grew a lovely, healthy baby, and this came with substantial physical and emotional stresses on her own body, and a life-threatening birth process, and our son's care has so often demanded of her the abandonment of her own wants and desires to enable her to meet our son's needs.  

She has done this as perfectly or imperfectly as any mother could, facing every challenge and demand and hurdle as it comes, with courage and compassion and sensitivity and consistency, and with all of her wonderfull, mysterious, passionate, commited heart.  

She is fierce, and tender, and authetic in her being, and her son and I are very blessed to have her in our lives. 

keith harmon snow

keith harmon snow 

84 Goshen Road
Williamsburg MA 01096 USA

+1 (413) 626-3800

keith.harmon.snow@gmail.com

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