Max looking out of the window at the mall

Things My Five Year Old Wants to Remember

Remember that TikTok meme from last year where you were supposed to hand your phone to your child and ask them to film you dancing to a Taylor Swift song? The twist was that the camera was actually reversed, so instead of filming you dancing, the child actually filmed their own reaction to you – which, was of course, invariably adorable, providing us with the important reminder that, to a child, mummy is the most beautiful and special person in the world, even when she’s dancing in her PJs with a bad case of bedhead.

Now, I didn’t take part in that meme (Er, sorry if you thought that’s what I was leading up to here – follow me for more TikTok tips, though!), but last summer my parents bought Max a camera, so he could document his holiday, and that meant I DID get to see myself through his eyes, after all. And this is what I look like to him, apparently:

photos from my 4 year old's cameraSo, not so much “the most beautiful and special person in the world” as “just a gigantic walking mouth, really.”

Seeing as I seem to be in the business of humiliating myself on the internet for no real reason, here’s another quick look at me through the eyes of Max:

unflattering photo of Amber ironingSo, now you know why I never made it big on TikTok, guys. Or, you know, in life.

(And now I feel like I need to explain that I wasn’t shouting at him in that first one, I think he’d asked me to sing, or otherwise perform for the camera. And that’s why I never made it as a singer, either. What an unexpected journey of self-discovery this has been for me.)

Awkward photos of my butt aside, though, I actually really enjoy looking through the photos he takes from time to time. Because he’s five (Or four, when most of these were taken), the vast majority of the shots are blurry or otherwise indecipherable; but because kids don’t tend to worry about what’s going to look good on Instagram, say, or which angle is the most flattering (I mean, see above…), what you end up with tends to be a blurry and badly-lit, but at least sightly more accurate version of what your life actually looked like at the time — as well as being an important record of the things your child finds most important or interesting.

Which, just for the record, turns out to be the TV in Max’s case:

TV in messy living room

And also the exceptionally messy living room.


OK, so maybe the shots of the TV aren’t that interesting or memorable, really. When I look back at my own photos, though, it’s never the staged, carefully posed shots that I linger over; it’s always the ‘mistakes’ that draw me in. The photos that you meant to delete, but which you end up keeping because when you look at them you’re suddenly reminded of that set of mugs your parents had when you were a teenager, or the way you spent the first few years of your child’s life sleeping in joggers and a sweater so that when he woke you up at 5am, you’d feel like you were at least partially dressed, as opposed to just stumbling around blearily in your nightclothes…

messy living room… even though you blatantly were just stumbling around blearily in your nightclothes.

For no reason other than that I spent a bit of time this week transferring all 2,000 of Max’s photos from the camera’s memory card to a hard drive, then, here’s a look at our life over the last 12 months, through the eyes of my four/five-year-old…

Amber looks round from the passenger sear of a car. She is smiling and wearing dark glasses.

TerryAn empty swimming pool in Florida. A sunlounger is reflected in the water

Amber stands against a wall which has the word 'Awesome" written on itThe inside of a fridge door, showing lots of sugar y snacks and a single apple

Sarasota, May 2022

flowers on the kitchen worktop

The “flower” Max and his little friend Aurla almost came to blows over one day at the playground: both insisted THEY were the one who had, er, “liberated” it from the school garden, and neither would give it up. In the end, we settled the argument by splitting the flower into two pieces and giving each of them half. They weren’t happy with this at all, each suspecting the other had been given the far superior part of the flower, but Max insisted on keeping his half in a mug in the kitchen for the next 3 months or so. We refer to the event as The Splitting of the Flower, and it’s still talked about in the village to this day. One day Max’s descendants will gather at the scene to remember the legendary battle that took place there, Im sure.

selfie by Max

A road sign covered in stickers on the Isle of Skyea black and white photo of two deckchairs in the sun

selfie of Max wearing a winter coat with a faux fur trimAmber and Terry talking in the kitchen of their house

photos from Max's cameraAmber and Max selfie, 2022

Terry in a restaurant on the Isle of Skye

Because I don’t want anyone to yell at me, this selection doesn’t include photos of actual people (other than me, obviously) — and nor does it include any of the 500-odd photos Max took during our trip to Gran Canaria last year, all of which were taken using some kind of weird ‘negative’ mode that makes everything look like this:

terrifying photo of Amber taken using night modeIt does, however, include this one shot of guy jumping off a bridge into the ocean, which, as well as looking 100% like someone finally got a photo of a ghost, has given me a vague idea for a novel in which a mystery is solved by clues found amongst the blurry photos taken by a child…

bridge in Sarasota

Or maybe not.

(The guy was fine, btw. It was Memorial Day weekend, and people were jumping of bridges for fun. Or, you know, it really IS a ghost, and I just said that to throw you off the scent. You decide…)

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  • Stephanie


    As a director of a preschool (in US), one of the best parts of my job is seeing the work through their eyes. A three or four year has some real insight into what’s important and to be celebrated. (Also I spend a lot time telling people not to lick various things- also good advice)

    June 8, 2023
    • Stephanie


      *world, but work is appropriate too.

      June 8, 2023
  • Alvina


    Amber, that’s an amazing project and the outcome is stunning! I totally fell for the light on the split flower photo. Beyond the fact that Max seems to be able to stand on water (of that pool), he’s a genius. Producing golden content runs in the family!

    June 17, 2023
  • Charlotte


    Honestly some of these pictures are really cool, the pics of you in sunglasses and the “awsome” one, and the one when youre both in the kitchen and the adorable parka selfie are all really creative! He may have a talant for photography in his future!

    September 30, 2023