Thursday, September 25, 2008

Smile and Shoot...(me in the foot, preferably)

A couple of weeks ago I took Nick to get his portrait taken. Since we started homeschooling him again, I have sort of slacked off on getting his picture done, while Michael gets a new picture every year at school. Tired of hearing the relatives go on and on about how I 'clearly' favor Michael because he has portraits, I took Nick to get a new picture.

Who knew that picture taking, for a 16-year old, was on par with have root canal or a limb amputated? I sure didn't. But man, did that boy GRIPE on picture day! The appointment took a very long time but overall, I was thrilled with the results. I missed picture day for Michael this year. Oh, I was prepared - I picked out nice clothes for him, made sure that his mass of curly hair wasn't too out of control, filled out the order form and sent him on his way. Where did I go wrong? I never actually PUT the order form in his backpack. So, now I had the option to wait for the picture make-up day or just take him to the darn Walmart and get the $4.99 package like I got Nick and be done with it. I chose option number two.

So today was picture day at Walmart for Michael. He had early release from school, came home, showered, chose a nice outfit to wear and looked as cute as can be as we headed out. I'm figuring this will be a breeze because, well, he's just not as difficult as the teenager about things like this. Trust me, he is difficult with many, many other things, but I did not believe this to be one of them. So we get to the portrait studio and sit in the waiting area and the first thing I notice is that there are blue 'spots' on his jeans. I'm like "What in the world is this?" His response? "Well, you told me I looked okay." Sigh. Yes, I did and it was my fault for not breaking out the magnifying glass before exiting the house. So okay, maybe we won't get any full-body shots and I'll be okay. The photographer was ready for us, and called us to the back. Now, I don't know if there are any "Friends" fans out there but if there are, do you remember the episode where Chandler and Monica go to get their engagement picture taken and Chandler can't smile? Well, that was my son. I mean, he literally could not do a natural smile. He showed teeth, his lips were curved, but it came off like he was facing a firing squad mixed with a deer in the headlights. It was weird. The photographer could not get him to smile, so another photographer comes in to help. She tells Michael (very nicely) that he wasn't giving us a REAL smile and his response "This is the only way I know how to smile." At this point I am reaching for my cell phone to call Frank and vent because it is HIS fault that our son can't smile! It's true.

We have two sons - one came out of the womb photogenic. He never really takes a bad picture (except now that he's a moody teenager). The other one is CLEARLY uncomfortable with the whole process of picture taking. I have to take a LOT of pictures of Michael to really get a good one. He's just not comfortable and it shows - just like Frank. So the second photographer has to resort to some ridiculous measures to get the boy to smile. First came the dancing teddy bear. I mean, seriously, no 8-year old should need a dancing bear to make him smile normally! Next came the poking and tickling. Then I had to chime in with a reference to "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown". It was beginning to feel like an aerobic workout now just to get some pictures! By the time they felt they had taken enough to give us some options, I was mentally and physically exhausted! We walk back out to the waiting area and I'm like "Thanks for cooperating" to Michael. His response? "Sorry" - though there was not a trace of sincerity in it.

When they called us to view the pictures I almost cringed. His discomfort was so obvious that I felt bad for even putting him through this! I mean, how cruel am I that I need portraits so badly that I have to resort to this kind of torture? It's just not right! I decided on the one pose that I want for the package deal but there were two other that I thought were cute. Now the child choses to come out of his shell and offers his input as to which pictures he wants! I'm like "Look, dude, after that stunt show you put on, I will be the only one making the decisions here, got it!" Yet another social-services moment brought to you by Stace.

I got out of there spending an extra $40 because I wanted the stupid extra poses and now it was no longer cheaper than the school photo package. Lesson learned? Next time I miss out on picture day, wait around for the make up. I don't think I could possibly survive another round of professional photos with my kids.

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