Don’t you wish it was that simple? I could line up all four of my kids, tell them to say "cheese”, they would all smile simultaneously, and then…click! Ha. Only fools think like that.
I, like most parents, love taking pictures of my kids. The invention of the digital camera makes this job even easier. I honestly don’t know how my parents (they had six kids) ever took the annual Christmas picture or any posed family picture without one. I guess they just clicked a bunch of times, crossed their fingers, and hoped that one of the pictures looked halfway decent.
Yesterday was Easter, so it was one of the few days out of the year that my whole family is scrubbed down, dressed up and looking good all at the same time. Is it too much to ask for a picture to document the day? Apparently it is.
Candid photos are great, and they’re actually some of the favorite ones I have of my kids. I love to snap little shots of them playing together when they don’t think I’m watching, or at random sweet little moments. But this is different. I wanted a family picture. I wanted a picture I could put in a tabletop frame. I wanted a picture where I could see all their faces clearly. I also…gasp…wanted a picture in which they are all smiling. At the same time. I know these kinds of pictures exist. I have seen them on my friends’ Facebook pages.
There is a science to taking the family picture, and it varies for every family. You want to take the picture when everyone is not too tired, too hungry, too cranky, too wet, has to potty, or has “scrumply” socks (Henry’s word). As parents, it is our job to find that perfect moment and pounce on it. Yesterday, Bill and I fed the kids breakfast, let them have a little (read: a pound of chocolate per child) Easter candy, and dressed them in their Easter duds. Phew. All was good. Time to get the camera!
We lined them up together. “Stand close together and smile! This is going to be really quick,” I said. Famous last words. One kid poked another. Another one wouldn’t stand too close. No one would smile at the same time. Tears ensued. The pleading and the threatening began. (I started it.)
My kids actually get along most of the time. But the minute the camera comes out and I want them to pose together, (the operative word being “pose”) all heck breaks loose. Maybe it’s the dressing up part. Dress clothes make kids “itchy”. Or so I’m told.
Charlie said, “Mom, can’t you see we don’t want to do this? Can we just go to church now?”
I snapped back, “Look Charlie. Moms want pictures of their kids all together. Get over it. Some day when you’re a parent you’re going to want pictures of your kids too. Now just stand still and smile and we can leave.” I know. You’re thinking to yourself, “What a tender moment between mother and son...”
In the end, I was happy with the picture I took. It was perfect in all its imperfectness. The picture highlighted my kids’ personalities, and I know I will look back at it someday with a smile. They say that "a picture is worth a thousand words," but sometimes it's more like five thousand, because there is a story behind it.
Perhaps yesterday will come to mind when I am a Grandma and I am watching my own children struggling to get their little ones to sit still for a picture, and I will think to myself...
“Ha. Told you so.”