For a year I photographed my granddaughter Rebecca looking at the camera. I never asked her to smile. She never volunteered and that was fine with me. Rosemary (my wife) was troubled until I explained to her that perhaps Rebecca wanted to act like an adult or was simply giving me the face she thought was “adult” like. In this series you can see a photo of Alice Liddell on the left, taken by the Reverend Charles Dodgson. I believe that Dodgson, as Lewis Carroll, may have written his Alice books as a gift to a young girl that he saw as an adult. Perhaps in the 20th or 21st century Carroll would have been locked up. Much has been written how in Victorian England children were exploited in the workplace. They were seen as small adults. The photo in the centre is of Rebecca with her “adult” face. On the right is Bronzino’s (1503–1572) portrait of Isabella de’Medici.
Today I had a little chat with Rebecca. I tried not to weigh her forever, as my mother did, when she told me, “Alex you have many flaws but you have one redeeming quality. You have integrity.” I believe that I may even ask Rosemary ( if I don’t suddenly die in a vaporizing explosion which would make it all so much easier!) that she inscribe on my tombstone, “He died with integrity.” My mother’s pronouncement has been a lead weight around my neck.
I told Rebecca that as lovely and talented as she might be she has one quality above all others. It is her ability to respond to logic. She is reasonable in the real sense of the meaning of that word. I asked her what was the possibility (we were driving in Sophie, Rosemary’s car) that a meteorite might hit Sophie’s roof and kills us on the way to Nikolai Maloff’s piano lesson. Rebecca answered that it was possible but unlikely. I then told her that the study of the process of probability is called statistics. She then made that leap that surprised me, but somehow I statistically expected. She said, “This means that if I quit my piano today, I might start it up again later but statistically it is unlikely that I will.” I wanted to scream, “Eureka,” but I didn’t.
Originally published at blog.alexwaterhousehayward.com.