We All Have Our Roles (or "I Can't Understand Why We're Not Making Out Right Now")

We all have our roles. On a futbol team, not everyone can be a striker. If everyone were a striker, who would stand utterly alone at the other end of the field, crouching and picking dandelions and guarding the goal like a total and complete loser? In a symphony, not everyone can play the sexy violin. Somebody has be a schmuck and play the stupid oboe, because if no one played the oboe in the symphony, how would listeners not be able to hear the oboe at all and thus not be able to appreciate the fact that the oboe adds nothing to anything anywhere in the universe, except for it looks like a hookah pipe?

I know that that baby backpack is probably heavy, and it sucks that she's pulling your hair, but you'll have to deal with it because I am capturing memories. (Pella, Jordan; Mar 2008)

I would love to join you but I am busy standing here twirling dials so that this memory is properly exposed. (Rio Dulce, Guatemala; Nov 2015)

That looks really hard fixing that kid's hair, and I would like to help, but later you will thank me for backing up further to get more wildflowers in the shot. (Wadi al-Sir, Jordan; Apr 2009)

That goat might be rabid but the kid will have to take her chances because shots like this don't grow on trees. (Wadi Shab, Oman; Apr 2014)

My role is to watch Shannon be an awesome parent, and to take pictures of her being an awesome parent. She is always pointing out something interesting to the kids. An intricate fungus. An iridescent insect. An unexpected color. My role is to follow close behind with the camera, try not to say "Durrrrr," too loud, and, for pete's sake, get a haircut.

Shannon has been curious and observant for as long as I can remember. On our honeymoon we walked along the beach and she kept pointing out little creatures in the tidal pools and glittering rocks in the sand. "Nice, great, they're rocks," I would say. "Look, I can't understand why we're not making out right now."

When we lived in Syria we went to the national museum, which was awash in amazing Mesopotamian artifacts. Shannon traced each one lovingly with her eyes from top to bottom and side to side. I hadn't yet discovered photography, so let me tell you, I got super bored. Fortunately, I had matured a little by then since our newlywed days. "Very interesting rocks, sweetheart," I would say. "Might I propose we go somewhere and make out?"

Buying a sweet camera was one of the great coups of my life. First, I got to spend a bunch of money on a fun toy. Second, taking pictures gave me something to do while Shannon stared at dirt. Third, when we vacationed or day-tripped, Shannon had to carry everything and tend to the kids because, as I believe I once artfully phrased it, "Look, I can't catalogue the kids' precious moments if they're hanging all over me. I mean, if you want their childhood lost forever, that's cool with me, I'll carry them around. Whatevs."

But it never phased Shannon. She's been exciting our chidren's sense of wonder for over a decade now, effortlessly citing Roman history to them, explaining how lightning works, pointing out Nabatean ruins, identifying howler monkeys by their call. She's a pro at just about everything. As for me, well, I just click the shutter and make sure we never forget the tiny, treasured moments.