Mia’s cousin Dylan is just 6 weeks younger than her. I know they don’t look 6 weeks apart, but I promise you they are. Even though Dylan is technically the younger cousin, he’s never been the smaller cousin. Even on the day he was born he outweighed Mia by a little over a pound. The gap is now somewhere around 10 pounds, but who’s counting.
Anyway, I love that Mia has a cousin so close in age because even though right now they mostly bite and hit and yell at each other over toys, I know that one day they are going to be best buds and smoke pot in our garage after we’re asleep and then cover for each other.
So last year Jenni (my sister-in-law, Dylan’s mom) and I decided to start a little tradition by taking the kids to the mall and having Christmas pictures taken, and then framing the photos for all the aunts and uncles and grandparents. Last year they were only 5 months old, and we brought them to The Picture People (because it costs $16 for about 1500 prints). Neither of them would sit up, or smile, or stop crying pretty much the entire time. The “photographer” (minimum wage high school student employee) would have been better off turning the camera around and filming US, trying to make the kids smile – because that was definitely youtube worthy.
Anyway, we ended up with a profoundly mediocre photo which nevertheless made all the grandparents happy. I chalked the kids’ bad behavior up to being only 5 months old.
This year we attempted holiday photos again, and let me just say, SHITSHOW.
Now, I want to blame the absurdity of the entire experience on the fact that the kids are now toddlers, and refuse to cooperate for anything, especially things that involve sitting still, or smiling. But after watching three families ahead of us manage to maneuver 1, 2, and even 5 kids (WTF?!!) into perfect poses with no crying, yelling, or hair pulling – I began to seriously doubt my parenting skills.
When I apologized to the photographer about the fact that my kid was not yet responding to “voice command,” she looked at me like people look at parents who walk their kids on leashes.
Now, in my defense I do want to point out that it is the policy of “The Picture People” to not allow children to sit on props on which their feet do not touch the floor. This is really problematic when you have the type of kid who needs to be placed up high on an object they can’t escape from to prevent them from hauling ass out of the studio and into the food court of the mall.
So, like responsible parents, we followed instructions and sat our kids on a puny little bench while they yanked each other’s hair and plotted their escape. We even put the unedited version of All About That Bass on full volume (your welcome nearby parents who think “bitch” is bad word) to try to get them to dance or smile or acknowledge that we were IN PUBLIC. But it was futile.
Mia hit Dylan, Dylan attempted to bite Mia, Mia ran for the door, I handed Mia a Christmas ball to entice her back onto the bench, Mia hurled the Christmas ball at the photographer, I told her Rudolph (her stuffed animal reindeer) was watching and was going to tell Santa she was misbehaving, at which point she grabbed Rudolph out of my hand and slammed him into the ground. At this point we grabbed our shit and and stuffed our screaming children into their strollers and high tailed it out of there – straight to Starbucks. Double espresso please with a shot of vodka.
Thirty minutes later we sat through the requisite sales pitch with the photographer who didn’t even bother with the up-sell spiel since 29 of the 30 photo comps looked like Mia had taken them. We selected the one photo that vaguely resembled a normal Christmas photo and then headed for the door, all the while justifying the insanity with toddlerhood, and assuring ourselves that next year will be MUCH easier.
P.S. If you want cute photos of your rambunctious kids, they do exist. Just not at the mall. If it weren’t for the comedic value of having Christmas pictures taken at The Picture People, we’d be giving Carly Murray Photography a call. Because she produced these for Mia’s modeling portfolio – without a leash, muzzle or baby handcuffs. Love her.