Friday, November 18, 2011

The Evils of Taking Family Pictures

I wish this photo of my girls made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, but it doesn't. Whenever I look at family pictures my gorge rises in my throat and I feel slightly nauseated remembering all the unpleasantness that took place on picture day. Because in my opinion, taking family pictures is the worst day of the year. I hate it. I dread it every year and feel like I'm about to break out in hives the night before.

We recently had our annual family photo taken and about five minutes before we were supposed to leave the house I realized that I didn't even like my family anymore. I would have rather posed next to complete strangers, or crack heads plucked straight off of Colfax Avenue. They do not make it easy, my family. In fact, I suddenly felt certain that if I drove away and left them all home alone to live out the rest of their days licking moldy yogurt from the bottom of the carton and wearing dirty underwear it would be a fate well deserved.

Here is a sample of the conversation that happens at my house every year on picture day. The scene begins with me standing at the top of our stairs yelling down to my family to come up and get ready. I am half dressed, half made up, and my hair is half way done. I have been ironing clothes for an hour, I haven't eaten since breakfast, and I just burned my thumb on my flat iron: 

Child Number One: I don't want to wear that!
Me: You have eight seconds to get dressed.
Child Number Two: I don't want to wear that either. I want to wear what she is wearing. (Points to older sister's outfit).
Me: This is one of those times where mom gets to decide and you get to obey. So stop complaining and get dressed. 

30 Minutes Later:

No one is dressed. My husband has wandered away to check the game score or tinker with something in the yard. All three girls are whining.

Me: Jeremy, I need you to get in here and get these girls dressed so I can finish getting ready and then do their hair.
Jeremy: Their hair looks fine the way it is, why do you need to do their hair? (He notices the outfit I've set out for him on our bed). I don't want to wear that. 
Me: Seriously. Are you seriously going to go there?
Jeremy: (sighs with resignation) Fine I'll get the girls dressed.

Ten Minutes Later:

Jeremy: I got them dressed but they aren't happy.
Me: It's picture today. Nobody's happy. Why don't you pack a bag of mini marshmallows and we'll bribe them.
Jeremy: Good thinking. (He pauses in the doorway). But are you sure we have to do this, you know, today? 
Me: (I grab my flat iron and level it directly at him) I know where you sleep and I will kill you. And by the way, if one of our girls is hit by a bus next week and dies a tragic death you are going to feel so grateful that we had our family pictures taken every single year while she was still alive.
Jeremy:  That's just wrong.
Me: Maybe. But I'd bet my next husband won't mind having family pictures taken. Now please, I am begging you to help me make this happen. (I have to be fair here and add that although Jeremy always begins by complaining, after a few stern reminders that I need him to get on board he always rises to the occasion, stops whining, and helps me get the girls ready on time).

Fifteen Minutes into the Photo Shoot: 

The girls are about to fall apart.

Jeremy: I think that's good.
Me: Okay. But how about one more. Maybe two...

Twenty Minutes Later: 
Jeremy: We're done. Seriously. The kids are going to be sick from all the marshmallows. 
Me: Okay. We're done. (A deep and powerful feeling of relief floods me. And then I want nothing more than to put on my pajamas and crawl into bed).

I'm not a natural taker of pictures. I don't own a fancy camera, I periodically forget to bring my tiny little camera to major events, and when I do take pictures I usually feel irritated afterward by the work of downloading them and organizing them in electronic files. However I am devoted to the concept of taking family pictures once a year and my stubbornness on this subject is unyielding. Darn it, they will put on the clothes I tell them to wear and smile whether they want to or not! Maybe you're feeling sorry for my family about now, or maybe your commiseration is so complete that you are ready to have me stand in your family picture this year because you know I will willingly put on the clothes and smile.

It's a necessary evil, but I am happy to say that it's over. At least until next year!



  1. One of the funniest things I've read...EVER!! lol

  2. I've just been catching up on your blog. Reading it makes me remember why I like you so much. You put into words what I feel. Keep writing so I can keep reading.

  3. Maybe picture day should be the weekend where you invite a family member or friend to come stay the weekend and then bribe them to get your girls dressed & help do their hair so you don't have to & Jeremy can watch the game. I will volunteer for next year. You can book me two or more weeks in advance, my rates are reasonable, payment in food or trade is negotiable.

    I am nothing if not a problem-solver. It's why they pay me the big bucks.

  4. Lauren, You are the BEST! I wish you are a super famouse writer and the whole world can read you stuff!


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