Friday, December 14, 2018

Smile!

(Originally published in the Miami News-Record)

Smile!

I dabble in photography from time to time. I’ve done several family sessions, a Senior session, and a couple of weddings so far. I don’t have any fancy “real photographer” equipment, so I specialize in outdoor shoots where light is more forgiving and I don’t need light boxes and those big umbrellas that I *think* are there for a purpose, but I can only picture Mary Poppins looking around like, “Blimey, I lost my giant umbrella once again!” And taking outdoor shots are all well and good until it’s January and you need your newborn’s pictures taken and Oklahoma is currently glazed in ice. So shortly after Petal’s birth I suggested that Abby try JC Penney portrait studio, see if she liked them, and let them do the pics I simply can’t until I win the lottery and buy equipment.

When Petal was a few weeks old, Abby, Kady, and I took the girls to Joplin for shopping and pictures. Petal was right in the middle of the worst colic known to humankind and yet onward we trekked. Wemberly fell asleep halfway through the mall on the way to the studio, of course, and when we woke her up she proceeded to cry like her heart was broken. The first thing we noticed when we arrived was the temperature. It was somewhere around 188* degrees in there. Abby set to the task of dressing Wemberly while I dressed Petal who was screaming like her arms were being removed with a spork. Abby pushed her sweaty hair out of her face, plugged a Goldfish cracker into Wemberly’s bawling mouth and said, “Right now, we are THAT family.” I smiled in agreement, lost track of my bouncing rhythm and Petal started screaming once more. Eventually I bounced her in just the right colic-busting way and she stopped. She was still scowly and fussy, but the screaming abated. At the height of the colic she had three moods: angry, angrier, and angrily asleep. We found a new setting that day: Maximum Angry. Best described as “like a tiny Hulk, just less green.”

The photographer was a champ and while neither girl actually smiled, there were still some cute ones. So we decided to do it again last weekend. Wemberly is now 15 months – the age all three of my kids were when they had their pictures taken in a pair of camouflage overalls Paul had bought for Abby and I want the picture recreated with all of my grandkids as well. The temperature in the studio was still tropical, but tiny screamy Hulk baby was considerably less screamy. Wemberly, dressed like she was headed out to the woods for a day of hunting, was as hyper as a chihuahua after an espresso and gave that poor photographer a run for his money. He rolled with it, though - and literally rolled around on the floor with her to get some adorable shots. When it was Petal’s turn I took Wemberly out to change clothes and let her run off some more of that energy. A Kindergartener named Brennon with a snotty nose and an obnoxious cough kept hovering over her and I was convinced she was going home with Ebola after that.

After all pictures were taken, the photographer disappeared. I don’t know if it was his corporate-mandated break time or if he was cowering behind a dumpster in the alley, chain smoking and searching Monster.com for jobs in an entirely different field, but regardless, dude was GONE. We finally managed to coax him back in with the promise we’ll request a different photographer next time and previewed their pictures. They turned out quite wonderful and I assured Abby every time we go it will get easier. That might be a tiny mom lie because I don’t remember picture day being remotely enjoyable until the last one was past Kindergarten, but young mommas need hope so I smiled and said, “Let’s make an appointment for Christmas pictures! And let’s ask if we can bring the new puppy!” I might’ve been borderline dehydrated from the heat in the studio when I suggested that. And fortunately they said no. Whew.

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