They say a picture is worth a thousand words. What they don’t tell you is that a few of those words are probably four letters long and start with the letter ‘f.’
Today, we went to the JCPenney portrait studios to get holiday pictures taken of the kids. This is our second consecutive year going to the same JCPenney photo studio to have portraits taken, and based on my cumulative experiences of last year and this year, I can say with certainty that it is always a shitshow.
This week started like any other, with a fair amount of hustle and bustle due to Carl’s school schedule, his activities, and keeping track of every other special dress day that his school declares. Between Hat Day, Red Shirt Day, Yellow Shirt Day, Jean Day, Superhero Day, and every other day inbetween, I’m starting to think that maybe they’re just trying to drive me batshit crazy. Or even more batshit crazy than I already am. If that’s at all possible.
Friday was a rainy teacher planning day, so after an outing at the local indoor bouncehouse place, we made a trip to the store to pick up some nice outfits for their portrait session. Everything fit nicely, they looked adorable, and we were all set. This morning, we woke up, had breakfast, got dressed, and were on our merry way.
Admittedly, it wasn’t my kids who were a hot mess. I’m not saying that because they’re my kids, either. They surprised me pleasantly today and were very well-behaved despite having to wait a while to get called, and were totally cooperative during the photo session, leaving me with a tough decision, trying to pick between 5 different shots that were adorable.
Equipped with the knowledge I have of this JCPenney photo studio, I can attest that there is some type of mysterious force field surrounding the photo studio, and once a child crosses the barrier into this force field, they completely lose their shit. Never in my life have I seen so many outwardly cherubic looking children, acting like Rosemary’s Baby.
Beautiful little girls in pristine white dresses tearing their headbands and hairbows out of their hair. Darling little boys in sweater vests rolling around on the floor, wailing. Adorable babies in tiny ties and argyle socks, clawing at their mothers and screaming bloody murder.
As I assessed the very real chaos unfolding around me, I have to admit, I gloated a little bit, since my kids were behaving pretty decently on the overall, and then I felt sorry for these presumably good parents, who only want to document this time in their children’s lives with a nice portrait, only to have their offspring basically take a hot, steamy dump on their face and flip them the bird. Figuratively, anyway. I didn’t actually see anyone drop a deuce on anyone else’s face, but that’s pretty much the only atrocity I didn’t witness at that godforsaken place today.
So, I’ve compiled a few tips on how to deal with your kids in the event that they morph into drooling Neanderthals at the photo studio this holiday season:
1) Keep the fancy stuff off until the last possible second. Chances are, your kid doesn’t want to wear that adorable little accessory you just had to buy them- I actually witnessed a little girl whip a floral headband across the waiting room like a boomerang. Unless you want whatever cutesy little item you brought to accessorize with under your kid’s shoe (or under some other kid’s shoe), keep it off until you actually get in front of the camera.
2) This is the perfect time to utilize the iPad or Kindle. Just trust me here. At one point, the boys were getting antsy, and they started to horse around briefly, and Leland ended up with a huge scratch on his face. So now, every time anyone looks at our beautiful holiday portrait, I’ll get to explain to them that he looks like Scarface because I forgot their Kindles at home.
3) Keep it short and sweet. This one’s pretty obvious, but I saw a few parents in there who had so many outfit changes, I was wondering whether their kids were getting ready to host the Academy Awards. Keep it short, keep it simple, do a couple of different poses, and leave before the meltdown begins.
4) Bring snacks. If your kids are anything like my kids, they beg for food more often than a dog or a hobo. Keep an arsenal of snacks to keep them at bay, particularly if you’re waiting. I made the mistake this year of not bringing a single snack since we left the house in a hurry, and I don’t think I’ve ever prayed so fervently for the heavens to open up and drop a bag of Goldfish crackers in my lap.
5) Book your appointment early in the day. My kids got up at 4:45 AM today. Four. Forty. Five. AM. Wrap your head around that, then proceed to feel sorry for me as you make me a pot of Cuban coffee. I was glad we had an 8:50 AM appointment, because they were still in good spirits, and the studio wasn’t crazy packed. We got out of there a little after 11 o’clock, and it was a madhouse. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many cute kids acting like drunk high school girls: laying on the floor, crying, and ripping all their clothes off.
I hope this post will help those of you who are planning to take your little ones for professional pictures! For those of you who are taking them this holiday season, good luck and Godspeed! For those of you who aren’t, congrats! You’re obviously way smarter than I am.