- Photographer: Matthew Morse
- Camera: Leica M6 [our review can be seen here]
- Lens: Zeiss Sonnar 50mm F/1.5 [our review can be seen here]
- Film: Kodak Colorplus 200 [our review can be seen here]
My daughter turned five just before Christmas. The biggest heart I know got a whole year older and wiser and more stubborn.
She’s been through a lot in her first five years. Her mom and I split, and she’s had to learn to live in two houses when all she really wanted was one. She got a great step-dad and, subsequently, a new little brother. The latter, more so than the former, ushering in a new wave of feelings — everything from jealousy and worry to a mom-like adoration for her new partner. She had a large tumor removed from her neck, the remnants of which are just barely visible in the form of a tight little scar on her right side — a reminder to me that I didn’t know anxiety, worry, or discomfort until I experienced it as a dad waiting in a coffee shop for the news that her surgery was over, and then the subsequent wait for her biopsy results to confirm what we hoped and prayed for — a benign mass.
Like many kids during the pandemic, she’s had to experience zoo closures and Door-Dashed dinners and limited access to public parks and amenities. My job at the time declared me an essential worker so she had to experience many of these things without me by her side. But I did (do) my best to make sure I’m present and engaged with her. We worked on riding a bike. We built a swing set. We dug in the dirt. We watched a thousand movies (or rather the same movie a thousand times — Frozen or Moana, whichever she picked until Halloween when she switched to watching Hocus Pocus obsessively).
And she grew up a little more than I wish she had to.
This shot of her, taken with my Leica M6 and Zeiss 50/1.5 Sonnar on Kodak ColorPlus 200 is maybe my favorite summation of her pandemic experience. She’s standing in our yard in Christmas pajamas (not even close to Christmas), insisting that she hadn’t outgrown her tricycle that she received for her first birthday. Like an eco-warrior chaining herself to a tree, she held fast to her first mode of childhood transportation, damning me for even considering the thought that perhaps another child might like to have it donated to them. She doesn’t need it. She doesn’t even want it. She has a bike. And two scooters. But for her, that little red trike is comfort. It’s a leftover from when she only had one house and all the parks were open and Door Dash was a luxury, not a necessity. When she was an only child and her neck was whole.
So, I’ll let her keep it. For a little while longer, at least. Because who am I to take away one of the only normal things she knows in a time when nothing is normal? Even now. Nothing is normal. But that tricycle… That tricycle is normal.
Many thanks to Matthew for their contribution to Single Shot Stories! More of Matthew’s photography can be seen on Instagram, and his website (which also features his design and illustration work).
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A beautiful story including some things that are not so beautiful. A beautiful photograph of a beautiful daughter.