My Children Will Never Be Safe

Let me explain. I don't really feel that the safety of my children is in any immediate danger. I've done my best to ensure a healthy amount of security is afforded them. But the world forgives nothing, and protects even less. This was forever etched into my brain when my son Samuel took a header into a row of concrete steps one Sunday morning on the way to shoot my brother Scott's marathon. As he lay there, motionless for a brief second, I had an epiphany. With my other son Joseph's car seat fastened steadily in my right hand, I watched the headline scroll before me: "Father Tries Too Hard. Fails Miserably." At that moment, it dawned on me that I will never truly be able to protect my children from bad things happening.

When I was younger, I always tried to do things that felt dangerous in some way, whether it was stealing a cordless telephone from Macy's when I was thirteen, or dropping acid while watching a seemingly normal man shoot an assault rifle at a tree in the Milpitas Hills (this may or may not have happened). I was either testing myself, or asking others to. I wanted to be different. My parents always did their best to guard my brothers and I. They worried constantly and rarely had any idea what we were doing. This was something we did. To them. But what probably worried them even more were the dangers we posed not to ourselves, but rather the ones their occasional lack of attentiveness would surely welcome. When I became a father, I swore an oath to shield my children from harm, to raise my fists against the perils of nature in their defense. But this was all an illusion. My naivety was the rabbit, the world around me its hat. As a parent, nothing will ever prepare you for this.

This photo was taken in the emergency room at the very hospital at which my son Samuel was born. I brought my camera to document the incident. What I was actually recording, however, immediately presented itself. I was setting a daily reminder that no matter what I do, my children will get hurt. They will feel pain. They will suffer broken bones, lost loves, memories of damaged relationships tearing at their skin. They will live their lives. And there is nothing I can do about it. Truthfully, there's nothing I should. These moments are what will define them. The experiences they have will develop the kind of people they become.

There is nothing new in this discovery, I know. I am not the first man to ever welcome a child into this world, and I won't be the last. I'm just a father trying desperately to remember what it was like to be a son. I'm terrified not that they will become something I don't want them to be, but that they will become something they don't want to be. But it all starts with these little accidents, which will transform into greater ones as they grow older, inspired only by the choices they make. As a photographer, capturing moments like this is difficult. I debated whether or not sharing this photo on Facebook was appropriate. I eventually did. Though I didn't want to sensationalize the incident, I didn't want to hide from it either. That morning horrified my wife and I. Thankfully, as his expression somewhat suggests, he was fine. He was cleared of any head related injury, and in the end, only sustained the scrapes and bruises you see here.

Every Christmas, I make a photo book for the grandparents on both sides of our families which covers the year leading up to it. There's a story directly related to the photographs themselves, told in the first person by my son, and as of this past April, sons. I know the text for this particular day will be difficult for me to write, as it once again provides an indication of what we, as parents, have to look forward to. I'm more excited to capture the triumphs in their future, made possible by their ability to overcome the hardships that befall them. As parents, that is the one thing my wife and I can teach them. We just have to learn how.