Say CHEESE . . . Please?!

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Preparing for that annual photo shoot, whether it be a studio shot or an informal picture in the back yard, can be a trying affair. This mom’s experience will help you smile about this sometimes stressful event.

I realized things had gotten out of hand after I wrestled my toddler son to the bathroom floor and pinned him down with my knees in order to make sure his haircut was even.

Jonah began screaming and pushing my hands away halfway through the haircut, bobbing and weaving like a boxer to avoid being touched by the sinister scissors. I desperately tried to get him to stay still. I pleadingly gave him Elmo, a toothbrush and a forbidden roll of toilet paper to unravel. When that didn’t work, I vowed to give him unlimited car privileges when he gets his driver’s license and all the candy he could ever want. No luck. I was in a panic. I had to complete his haircut. If I wanted his portrait done with his twin sister Abbey the following day, his hair had to be somewhere in the neighborhood of symmetrical.

The portrait. Two words that send chills down the spines of parents who have small children. The mere thought of trying to dress a kid in stiff, uncomfortable clothes and then coaxing a smile out of him seems like a doomed endeavor, never mind trying to do it with two uncooperative toddlers. But there’s no avoiding it. Despite the multitude of snapshots taken of my kids and constantly disseminated to friends and family, no one’s truly satisfied until they get that official, professional photo done. So you, the parent, shrug your shoulders and try to prepare for ordeal.

Abbey and Jonah had their first portrait taken at a major department store when they were seven months old. They had to be propped up by a box covered with a scratchy brown carpet that God knows how many other kids like mine had drooled or sneezed on. Now I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t exactly be inclined to smile if I were dumped onto an uncomfortable wooden platform, put under hot lights in a tiny 85-degree room while some strange man standing behind an ominously large contraption maniacally shook a pathetic bunny in my face. Taken from a child’s perspective, getting a photo done is akin to facing a relentless onslaught of crazy people. “Mommy’s acting so weird, grinning wildly, waving her arms, snapping her fingersn and calling for me to, ‘Look up here.'” Despite my ridiculous attempts to get them to smile—I was about as funny as listening to a dial tone—I was still naively disappointed that we weren’t able to get a shot of the babies smiling simultaneously.

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