Thursday, May 05, 2005
For the love of God, just SMILE.
I really, really need a drink and a long, hot bath. But I don't drink, and my tub's too short, so you all get to hear me whine instead. What fun!

It all started at Christmastime. My kids each got beautiful, hand-knit sweaters for Christmas this year, from their godmother. They were a little big for the kids in December, but as we all know, kids multiply in size right before our very eyes, so the other day I decided to get the kids to a portrait studio to get a picture of them before the sweaters become doll clothes. So we got everyone bathed and dressed nicely and fed and napped, and off we went to K-Mart, where we have been going since Emily's birth. I knew that K-Mart and Sears were merging, but the one here in town is still a K-Mart, so I figured the Olan Mills studio would still be in there. My heart immediately sunk through my shoes as we walk in, because the store is essentially empty, save for a few truly hideous size XXXXXXXXL neon pink and orange shirts, a few lonely tumbleweeds, and 5,000,000,000 "90% off Sale!!!!" signs. And there on the side wall, where my beloved Olan Mills once stood, was a big, gaping hole, partly covered by plastic and duct tape. Not the best backdrop for a picture - though, trust me, if I'd brought my camera, we probably would have used it.

So we went home, all dressed up and no one to take our pictures. I called around, but there is not one other low-cost portrait studio within a 45-minute drive of here - there's either the really fancy and expensive Artistic Photographeurs, or nothin'. And we're basically broke, so nothin' it is!

Then last week we were in Walmart, and there was a sign that the traveling photographer would be in town for a week. Much celebration and elation, yee haw. Hours from 10-6. So this morning we got everyone dressed and bathed and fed, but not napped, and headed over there right at 10. And the photographer woman (we'll call her Obnoxious) had arrived just mere seconds before us. So Obnoxious is running around, all flustered, plugging things in and spreading rugs out and generally setting up this little studio.
In the middle of the Lawn and Garden department.


Walmart here doesn't have a studio, and they couldn't find a quiet part of the store to set up, so they plunked this portable little center of photographic hell up between the mulch and the lawn ornaments. Fantastic.

I had plenty of time to stand there and think about it, because it took Obnoxious an hour to get herself all set up and ready to go. I was third on her list - there were 18 poor, to-be-frazzled people in line behind me. So it's finally our turn... throughout this time, both kids have been great, but I am ever-aware of the fact that Jacob's naptime is typically around 10:30 in the morning. We started the photo shoot at 11:00. I know that I should have just left and come back some other time, but you know how mothers can get irrational and unreasonably determined about the dumbest things? Well, this was my turn - I just convinced myself that it would all be fine. Idiot.

As soon as it was their turn, Emily climbed up onto the table and reached for Jacob. He promptly lost all semblance of happiness or composure. Both hands shoved into his mouth, he insisted on looking at me (I was sitting next to and slightly behind them, on the World's Most Uncomfortable Stool, so that I could catch Jacob if he decided to launch himself off the pathetic folding table, thereby saving Walmart from a billion-dollar lawsuit. I guess.), or at the piles of mulch, or at the ceiling fans... anywhere but at the camera.
Obnoxious did not click at all with my kids (as it were). She kept ordering Emily, "Sit up! Smile!" and to get Jacob's attention, she was waving this little black pillow thing in his face. Now, Jacob does not respond well to things in his face. In fact, around here, we refer to him as "Flinch," because whenever anything comes remotely near his face, he makes a lemon face and shuts his eyes. I can only guess that he must have been a professional dodgeball player in a former life.

So Obnoxious is waving this thing at Jacob, he is flinching, and no one is having any fun at all. The next 20 minutes of my life went approximately as follows:
OBNOXIOUS: Smile! Jacob! Jacob! Jacob! Jacob! Jacob! Jacob! Jacob! Jacob! Smile! Emily, sit up! Smile! Smile! Jacob! Jacob! Jacob! Jacob! Jacob! Jacob!
ME: Emily, honey, think of happy things. Just stare at the camera and pretend you see a buffalo in there. Just relax, have fun. Jacob, hang in there, buddy.
OBNOXIOUS: Smile! Smile! Smile! [Frantically waves pillow] Jacob! Jacob! Jacob! Jacob! Jacob! Jacob! Jacob! Jacob! Jacob! Jacob! Jacob! Jacob! Jacob! Jacob! Jacob! Smile! Emily, sit up! Smile! Jacob! Jacob!
EMILY: My back is tired. I'm bored.
ME: I know, I'm sorry. Let's just take a picture of you without Jacob.
OBNOXIOUS: No, he just smiled! [Clicks camera 2 seconds too late] Okay, again! Jacob! Jacob! Jacob! Jacob! Jacob! Smile!
JACOB: [Both fists in mouth, reaches for Mama] Waaaaah. Waaah? Waaah. WAAAAAAAHHH.
And so on. Finally, I quit, and took Jacob away, leaving Emily with Obnoxious, who, on top of being flustered, was apparently in the middle of a manic episode by this point. Soon afterward, we were sprinting out of the store as fast as we could, with the gentle echoes of, "Okay, now, Daniel, smile! Smile! Smile! Daniel! Daniel! Daniel! Daniel! Daniel! fading into the background.


So, needless to say, I'm not feeling real confident about the quality of those pictures. We'll find out in a few weeks.

The good news is, we bought a new house, and will be moving in 2 months - so, as long as I can still jump up and down on top of Jacob firmly enough to cram him into his little sweater vest then, we can try somewhere new for a better picture.