Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Storm Before the Calm

          One of the countless advantages parents of this age hold over the generation before is digital photography. Another one is kid leashes, and a third is not having your kids constantly ask if Air Supply is two women, two men, or a man and a woman. I wondered about that last one a lot. But the digital photography pretty much trumps everything.

Because now we can acquire a mountain of holiday pictures in the hopes that just one makes our kids look cute for the requisite holiday card. Our parents had to pick from six. Hence,

This extra probability virtually guarantees at least one altogether not terrible photo, one that belies all the chaos preceding and surrounding it. Still, the holiday picture expedition consistently proves daunting, taxing, frustrating, exhausting. Here, then, are some easy ways to diminish the storm before the calm:
1.    Clothing – it’s always important to pick out the kids’ clothing the night before the scheduled picture day. This will save important time the next morning, time to be spent extracting gum from the kids’ hair. However, if the kids are dressed and haven’t yet brushed their teeth, please do NOT let your kids brush their teeth after they have put on their holiday clothes. Unless you can find another outfit on the fly or can work the dribble into a snow scene on your son’s sartorial Winter Wonderland dreamscape. Maybe smoke coming from the snowman’s pipe? Maybe a mini-blizzard on Rudolph’s nose? Your kids’ teeth are just not that important, 4 out of 5 dentists will concede.

      1a. Shoes – 78% of all families who show up late to anything do so because they were missing a shoe. Everyone knows this. Simple solution: Buy two identical pairs of all shoes and keep the second pair in your safe deposit box and hire a full-time guard. You won’t be disappointed.

      1b. Helmets – There aren’t three greater indignities in the world than banging your head when entering or exiting a car, which results in tantrums and tears by folks of any age. To minimize the impact of a kid losing his or her shit by banging their head, provide them all with helmets to wear when exiting the car. Hockey, football, astronaut, the activity is immaterial. Just wear the headgear. Do NOT mess up the hair, though.

      1c. Pajamas – Leave them at home. Your kids will love you later for it. Especially the one for whom you bought that skin-tight candy cane number. Yikes.

2.    Ventriloquism – Teaching your kids ventriloquism will pay key dividends when you’re stuck with the overzealous photographer who gets too specific with the trigger words. Gone are the days of the simple “say cheese,” in favor of polysyllabic, often gross, bluster like “say chesseburgers” or “say elephant farts!!”

Two-year-olds will try to say exactly what you tell them to, so please, commercial photographers, stop requiring them to possess a degree in linguistics to get a picture. We had the “say cheeseburgers” lady, so we came away with two dozen pictures of kids saying the “ur” part. Go ahead, as you read this, say the syllable “ur” while smiling. Look how stupid you look. We got 72 of those faces. If only we had enrolled them in extracurricular ventriloquism school, we’d have an entire album of kids jamming their top and bottom teeth together into forced smiles. You can practically hear the teeth grinding.

2a. Teach your kids it’s okay to use the word “fart” if you haven’t done so already. This will avoid the 7 or so shots where your kids are all looking to your wife with the “she said it was ok to say farts!” face. Eyebrows raised.

This tree has nothing to do with kids pictures, but I'm required by law to add a picture.
3.    Nourishment – Make sure your kids are well-fed before the photo session. If they are not, you will be forced to bribe them with a trip to a burger joint afterwards, where they will say “cheeseburgers” over and over.

4.    Temper expectations – The probability of failure is very high. Always remember what your second-grade baseball coach taught you: “It only takes one.” Not sure what that meant in terms of baseball, but it’s quite clear in terms of kiddie photography. Just get the one good shot, it’s in there somewhere.

5.    Bonus item: Don’t order the wallet-sized pictures. Hint: Here in the 21st Century, nobody carries pictures in their wallet. There’s this thing called Facebook. Or Shutterfly. Or Snapfish. 
If you have kids and haven't gone to get your pictures taken yet, maybe some of these hints will prove helpful. If you're in receipt of one of our cards, just consider the above before tossing it in the trash. Or maybe your kids are beyond the age and you're in the "been there done that" phase, and you're jealous of all the advances in photography. Regardless, enjoy the holiday and say "Stinky cheeseburger farts!"

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