So Father’s Day was over a week ago, and in MOV-Procrastiland I thought that today I still had plenty of time to get a nice present for The Husband. What better gift than a professional photo of our two sons, maybe even in black and white, sepia tones, or not-hitting-each-other hues.
I told the boys first thing this morning what our Action Plan was (that is special lingo I picked up at the high-end kitchen store, it means “plan of action”). I informed them they would need to put on a very nice outfit of my choosing and comb their hair for once. I was laying the groundwork for unhappiness: mine, theirs, and the unsuspecting minimum-wage mall photographer.
First, Tall decided to take a shower using all of the city’s water supply, and possibly the entire state’s as well. I thought this was a teenager trait, or a girl trait, but apparently it’s a stall-long-enough-and-mom-might-forget-about-photos tactic. When he finally stepped out of the shower, it was almost 3 PM. We were running out of time.
I selected a jaunty navy and white checkered shirt that would be making its debut wardrobe performance with khaki shorts for Tall, and a bright green polo with an adorable pristine white sweater vest and navy shorts for Short. The theme was preppy/ uncomfortable/ Martha’s Vineyard wannabes. Short was none too thrilled about wearing a sweater vest in 95 degree heat, but hey—we all must suffer in the name of fashion.
After much bribery involving promises of bakery cupcakes with sprinkles, and stops at the Lego store at the mall after the photos, we were at our front door, keys in hand. At this very moment, a tiny (smart) angel tapped on my shoulder and said,
“MOV, don’t you think you’d better Google this photography place and find out their hours and prices first?”
I zipped upstairs to the computer and clicked a couple of keys. Sure enough, the mall photographer had closed up shop permanently. (I immediately felt a pang of guilt: Did they quit because of the horrible ruckus Tall and Short caused last time we went there, you know, the time they broke all their darling props of sailboats and wagons, and that super-expensive camera was “accidentally” knocked over?)
What should I do now? The boys were standing in our front entry hall, looking the cutest they’ve looked, well, probably ever. I could not waste this cuteness. I’d found another photography place online, but it was an hour drive away. By the time we got there, I knew the boys’ (temporary) good moods would unravel.
I did the only thing I could: grabbed my camera.
“Boys, good news!” I announced, as if I was about to tell them they’d won the lottery. “We don’t have to go to the photo place now!”
“WHAT?” Short was outraged. “But you promised us cupcakes and Legos!”
Where was that smart (stupid) angel now? I was going to have to think of something fast.
“I know, I know,” I said, buying time, “You will still get treats, uh, mystery surprise treats! I just need you to cooperate and pose for photos in the yard instead.”
“Wait, our yard?” asked Tall with obvious disdain. He said the words our yard like you might say raw sewage.
“What’s wrong with our yard? We have a nice yard. Let’s go.”
We went out the back door and I started scouting potential Kodak moment spots. I consider myself to be an excellent amateur photographer, so I was quite concerned with the location of the sun and the shadows it was casting.
I’d like to tell you I got the perfect shot in the first two minutes. I’d like to say that the boys cooperated and actually enjoyed the experience. Both of those statements would be outright lies.
We were instantaneously eaten alive by mosquitoes and swarmed by gnats. This was not part of my Action Plan. Short dutifully turned his lips up and approximated a “cheerful” look, all the time he was probably telling himself, “Mystery treats! I will get mystery treats!”
Tall, however, would not hide his growing irritation.
“This is so stupid, Mom! Why are we doing this? Pop already knows what we look like.” Then, through clenched teeth, “Ugh, these bugs are killing me! I hate these bugs!”
I captured several lovely shots where he is swatting at some invisible thing and ends up hitting his brother in the nose. Yes, these candids are the real deal.
The mystery treats for their “cooperation” turned out to be a trip to the neighborhood toy store to scope out the latest Pokemon cards. Next, we went to our favorite local diner to order old-fashioned milkshakes. The restaurant was air-conditioned and not crowded. Tall started telling us silly jokes and laughing. His laughter was contagious, and soon Short and I were giggling, too.
As I looked at their genuine happy smiles, I had only one thought: Great, my camera’s in the car.