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GAIL WHITE Home-movie memories -- some, I'd like to erase



Published: Fri, April 19, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



We were spending a family evening watching home movies.

I just love home movies -- watching the children running around in their toddler waddle, listening to their little voices, laughing at their funny antics. It's all wonderful family entertainment.

What I learned this particular evening, however, is that some scenes in life are better left untaped.

How it started out

The evening began innocently enough. We had delved back into our video archives and found a tape where we had videotaped Andrew's first step.

Andrew is our third child. At the time of the taping, Robert was 5, Phillip was 21/2.

It was such a happy scene, taped in our living room. Pat was holding Andrew. Robert and Phillip were happily bouncing around in the background, excited to see their little brother's first steps.

The video begins as Pat scoots across the floor, holding out his hands.

"Come on, Andrew. Walk to Daddy," he beckons the toddler.

Andrew's mouth is open, his two, little teeth shining through the dribble running down his chin.

He takes a precarious step, then another. As he falls into Daddy's arms, his cheering section erupts.

Robert pats Andrew's head, "You did so good!" he encourages is little brother.

"Soooo dood," echoes Phillip.

The tape continues, with Robert and Phillip taking turns catching the unsteady new walker.

When one is not catching, he can be seen in the background jumping up and down with great excitement over this wonderful event.

The conclusion of "Andrew's First Steps" shows the three boys on Dad's belly, all covered in happy toddler slobber.

It was beautiful. A moment of time, caught on tape for our family to remember forever.

It was so sweet and endearing, it brought a tear to my eye.

Moving on

When we put in the next tape, I broke out into a full-blown bawl.

Someone had the bright idea to flash forward five years and watch David's first steps on tape.

It sounded innocent enough for me.

Unfortunately, innocence had left our household years before.

When David began his journey into the walking masses, he too was 1 year old. His brothers were 11, 7 and 5.

Times had changed.

The tape begins with a happy mother behind the camera.

"Do you want to walk today?" I coo to the excited toddler.

"Robert, lean him up against the corner of the couch." Then, changing into my baby voice, "So da big boy can walk to Mommy!"

The camera reveals an 11-year-old tugging at what appears to be a dressed, wet noodle.

They fall to the ground. They wrestle. The two brother sidekicks join in.

The camera goes black.

A moment later, the tape is rolling again and David is situated beside the couch.

Again, a sweet Mom's voice, "Come here, David. Walk to Mommy!"

He falls. As Robert attempts to pick him up, he becomes a wet noodle once again.

The sidekicks try to help. Once again, a wrestling match breaks out.

One fed-up mom

Mom's sweet voice is becoming impatient. Her words are cut off as she shuts off the camera again.

The picture returns to find a determined, yet somewhat confused toddler preparing to take a few steps.

He moves a foot.

Andrew dives in front of the lens.

"Don't jump in front of the camera," the frazzled mother says. "Do it again, David."

Just as the child attempts a step, Phillip decides to make a funny face into the camera.

Mother loses it. In her furor, she forgets to turn the camera off.

"You, over there!" she says to one sidekick. "You, over there!" she says to the other. "And don't move!"

"Robert, hold that baby up!"

"Everybody back off!" she says with a tone of insanity.

"Now, David. Walk!"

gwhite@vindy.com




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