When your daily activities are in concert with your highest priorities, you have a credible claim to inner peace. – Hyrum Smith


4/25/11

Picture Day


I liken taking the kids to have their pictures made to Chinese water torture, to having my fingernails removed with pliers, etc.

You might think I'm being dramatic. I'm not. I hate it...with a passion. I hate it more than cleaning up explosive diarrhea or vomit. I hate it more than mopping my floors. (If you know me, you know that's a big deal.)

Today was the day. Time for Parker's 4 year pictures. I thought that it would be cute to get one of the kids together, too...maybe an Easter theme. HA!

Part of my problem is that each time I think I will be able to take them to a department store [read: cheap] portrait studio, and actually get what I want. My plan is simple enough. Walk in with the portrait package coupon, walk out $7.99 poorer. Never works. Ever.

See, they break you down. They know that by the time they show you the custom collages they've created or the 892 separate photos they've taken, you are already mentally, physically, and emotionally incapacitated.

Here's how it works. You plan your day just so. You iron their "picture" clothes before they awake. The kids are bathed and fed. You pack an array of distractions [books, toys, food]. You arrive 10 minutes early to wet and brush their hair and change them into their "picture" clothes. You're feeling pretty good.

Phase 1: The studio torture commences. All associates are busy trying to convince other customers (whose children are climbing the walls at this point) that they would actually save money [in the future, should they ever be stupid enough to return] by purchasing the Portrait Club Pack. So focused are they on their sales pitch, that you and your perfectly groomed children are completely ignored. At this point, one of your children begins to whine that he/she needs to potty now, and you hustle them out of the studio, down the hall, and into the nearest restroom. All instructions "not to touch anything" are ignored, and soon you are frantically scrubbing their hands, getting their pressed clothes wet.

Phase 2: The waiting game continues. You return to studio to wait some more. Now your children are wrestling with each other on the floor, adding dirt and wrinkles to their wet, previously pressed clothes. Your name is called.

Phase 3: You become the problem customer. No sooner is your name called, your other child insists he/she must potty [though he/she had just insisted moments ago when you were actually in the restroom that there was absolutely no need to go then]. Hustling your wet, dirty, wrinkled children down the hall again, you visit the restrooms and return, breathless.

You present your coupon. The laughter inside the employee's head is almost audible as she takes it from your hand and lays it dismissively on the counter, as if to say, "Yeah, right. We'll see if you escape this place and just pay for 2 poses! Ha!"

Phase 4: The actual photo shoot. The "hugging" poses quickly take on the appearance of full-on football tackles. It's not pretty. Though the photographer maintains a sweet [if somewhat strained] tone, asking the children for cooperation, you quickly move onto bribery, then threats, then the evil mommy stare. (This will explain the terrified expression plastered on their faces when you later view the photos.)

Phase 5: The post picture-taking wait. Your children are done with a capital D. They want out of their clothes. They want out of the studio. They want lunch. They want daddy. Pretty much anything you don't have in your bag-o-bribes, they want. Meanwhile, the salesperson is putting together an array of photo collages you already explained you do not want...but they have to because it is a requirement of their job...yada, yada, yada.

Phase 6: The worst and final stage. The choice. You are finally beckoned to a nearby computer, where you are forced to view the collages you will never be able to afford. You secretly smile because some of the pictures are so bad (e.g. when the children are paralyzed with fear due to your own ferocious expressions, no doubt), you don't even want them. After you finish viewing the collages, you move onto the 4,000+ individual shots which were taken. [Please note that while you are viewing the plethora of photos, you are also keeping one eye on your children who are quite literally climbing the walls]. You finally find 3 great photos. You can't narrow it down. Your mind is mush. Your coupon will only apply to 1. They've got you. Is that salesperson smirking?

You leave lugging the bag of clothes, toys, and food, dragging along two crying, hungry, tired children. You realize the only way in which you will ever be able to actually look upon these pictures and smile is if your brain is miraculously cleansed of this terrible experience.

Luckily for me, I have an awful memory.

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