real as rain

by tobias crabtree

i’ve been doing some experiments lately. i’ve been conducting a series of interviews with youngsters. i don’t have any age parameters, just so long as they don’t change who they are when i start asking questions. ever noticed how difficult it is to be yourself once someone points a video camera at you? actors probably aren’t quite as affected, but i don’t know if it’s because they have just turned into the actor and have lost their real self somewhere in acres of video files, or if they’re simply comfortable in front of the camera. i’m affected for sure. i don’t like the feeling of trying to be myself. i tried these interviews with some video but it just didn’t work. there was too much hamming it up in front of the camera and i lost the connection with the kiddos. so i went old school and wrote the stuff down, that didn’t seem to bother anybody so long as i didn’t have too much silence in between questions. after all, kids live in a quantum physics world where time and space is different. they can be distracted 5 times inside of a second. colors are brighter. sparkles are more twinkly. words are more direct and honest. i like to ask questions that make them think, questions that give me a peek under the veil and into their imaginations…another universe entire.

the interviews are usually short. they usually end with me getting cut off in lieu of something more important, like a cookie, or a butterfly, or a firetruck.

interview with seidel (4yrs old): (setting: on the driveway in the sun. both of us lying on our backs, looking at the clouds.)

me: would you rather be the sky or the ocean?

seidel: i would rather be the ocean because it’s green and blue and also water.

me: would you rather be a tree or a river?

–small pause–

seidel: i’d rather be a bridge, made of wood.

(with that my mouth dropped open and i couldn’t think of another question because that last answer was so good. so i laid there for a few seconds and watched the clouds. soon seidel continued with more thoughts.)

seidel: and the trees are wooden and the red flowers are made of red and the green in the tree makes leaves.

she left me scrambling for my pen and paper. i think she wanted a juice or something.