I saw my daughter alone in the crowd. “Where’s the cameraman who was following you?”
She shrugged. “Lost, I guess.” But her grin told me she knew more than she was letting on.
Some years ago, a movie company was doing a project on ideas to help families stay strong called Real Families. They wanted to film many different families in their normal day-to-day activity. We, with our ten children, were asked if we would participate.
My wife and I talked it over and visited with the producers. We knew we were not perfect parents, and we were afraid that the production would try to portray us as better than we truly were. Though we did not necessarily want the world to know all of our faults, we didn’t want them to think we never made mistakes, either. They assured us that the project was to express mistakes as well as successes so that people could learn from both. With that assurance, we agreed.
They scheduled to be with us for four days. They would film everything we did. At noon on the appointed day, I met the film crew at their hotel room, and they followed me to our home. They spent the afternoon trying to help us adjust to having cameras all around us, telling us to just act natural.
That was not an easy adjustment. Although we had tried to prepare our children, there were many times when a camera came in their direction that they ran away.
“I’m sorry,” I said. “We are just a little camera shy.”
The producer nodded. “I have to admit that I haven’t seen a family that is as nervous about cameras as much as yours is. But I think everyone will get used to it.”
It also happened that that evening we had planned to go to Summerfest. Summerfest is when the local town closes off the main street and people bring crafts, garden produce, and all sorts of food to sell. There are games, contests, and lots of live music.
I told the camera crew that I didn’t think it was a good idea to film there. “The people of our small town aren’t used to such things,” I said.
“Don’t you worry about that,” the producer replied. “We have filmed in cities all over the country, and nobody thinks twice about it.”
I wasn’t so sure, but we agreed to continue with the evening’s plans. We arrived at Summerfest, and some of our older children, nervous at the thought of a camera following them in public, tried to make a break for it. But each cameraman chose someone to follow and stayed right on their tail.
My wife and I, with our smaller children, had a cameraman with us. As we moved into the street, people parted at the sight of the camera like the Red Sea parted before Moses. Everyone gave us a wide berth. Everywhere we went, the thick crowd quickly dispersed.
The producer said, “I’ve never seen anything like this. Why don’t they just act natural?”
I laughed. “They are acting how they naturally do when they see a camera.”
The cameraman filmed me winning the cow-milking contest. They filmed my daughter squealing all the way down a balloon slide after being nudged off the top by her sister. They filmed us eating sloppy barbeques and fresh corn on the cob and becoming a sticky mess. They filmed everything we did.
Meanwhile, my third oldest daughter, who was in her late teens, had not been able to lose the cameraman who was following her. She had made many attempts, but all to no avail. She couldn’t lose him in a crowd when everyone opened a path for him.
She had finally resigned herself to her fate when she stepped up to a booth selling huckleberry ice cream. The man manning the booth leaned over and whispered to her, “Don’t look now, but there is some strange man with a camera following you.”
“What should I do?” my daughter whispered back.
“I don’t know,” the man said, “but he looks mighty suspicious.”
“I have an idea,” my daughter said, leaning closer. “You distract him, and I’ll make a break for it.”
And that, I found out, is how the cameramen got lost in the crowd.