This morning I had one of those quintessential parenting experiences that made me want to repeatedly bang my head against a brick wall.
I took the girls to a photographer.
Every mother reading this just slapped her hand to her forehead and groaned in sympathy. Because we all have been there. We want perfect photos of our perfect children, so we plot and scheme and plan and connive to make it so, because BY GOD we are going to pretend for just one damn moment that our kids are always this clean and groomed and well behaved.
The reality, of course, is far different.
I spent weeks thinking about the girls' outfits. I knew the photographer would have a white backdrop set up today, which meant the girls needed to wear complementary colors of a certain hue. No bold patterns allowed, which eliminated most of Elegant's wardrobe. I wanted the girls to coordinate but not be identical because we don't roll that way here in Jenworld. Pretty much the one color they both have in abundance is hot pink but I really didn't want pink. Ultimately, I settled on red.
The girls don't have school today, so we let them stay up late last night. It's cold and raining -- again -- so getting them moving was an ordeal. They just wanted to play, not eat breakfast and get dressed. So help me, I think that Graceful was chewing each bite of her scrambled eggs at least 40 times before swallowing, as I nervously watched the clock's hands move closer and closer to the time of our appointment.
I got Graceful and Elegant dressed in record time and everything as perfect as it's ever going to get. I told the girls not to mess with their hair so of course Elegant immediately put on a damn crown.
I wanted to take some photos myself before we left, because how often are my girls clean, pressed, styled, and in coordinating outfits? I might as well take advantage of the situation.
I told the girls to sit on My Precious and to just smile naturally. I warned Elegant not to make any bunny ears behind her sister or she would face the Wrath of Mommy. I ordered them both not to goof off. Of course they both froze up and what I got was a whole lot of this:
It's my own fault. The more tense I got, the less able they were to relax. Pete, sensing the near-eruption of my temper, stood behind me and got the girls laughing, so we ultimately ended up with a couple of good photos like this:
We finished our little pre-photography session and rushed out into the rain to get to the photographer's studio on time. This particular person is a parent at our school and her studio is in her house a couple of blocks away. As we came to a screeching halt in front of her house, I saw a family we know leaving. The mother looked at me and said, "You look just like I did 20 minutes ago." I knew exactly what she meant.
We walked in and Sabra, the photographer, whisked my girls off to her studio. She has found that kids are more natural and relaxed if their parents aren't standing nearby micromanaging things. I agree, so it's always a surprise to me when I get the proofs and see what magic Sabra has wrought. I could hear a lot of laughter, giggling, and guffawing from the next room, and Sabra told me afterward that she got some great shots of the girls interacting with each other and laughing.
As we walked out, another family we know pulled in behind us. The parents hopped out and started hustling their kids to the door. I took one look at them and said, "You look just like I did 20 minutes ago." And they laughed in mutual understanding.