By the time I post this, my annual Christmas photo cards will be in the mail. In the spirit of keeping it real for the five people who read this blog, however, I hereby confess that this year's family photo is a fake. That's right. After an hour of cajoling, bribing, pleading and yelling at the boys to give me one good pose with everyone smiling at the camera, I was left with only one option: Photoshop. In the two hundred shots we took, every picture featured at least one member of the family squinting, grimacing, tripping, shoving, or otherwise not spreading holiday cheer. Necessity being the mother of invention, this mother merged two different shots into one holly jolly pose to send to unsuspecting friends and family.
I am not proud of this forgery. It was not so much clever as it was desperate. You see, every year, the annual family photo session is the boys' dreaded event of the pre-holiday season. Perhaps if I had given birth to four girls, I might have produced children who enjoyed donning formal attire and striking glamorous poses for a family portrait worthy of adulations, tears and followers on Pinterest. With four boys, however, a successful photo session is simply one in which no one is sucker punched.
In order to understand the challenges of taking photos of my boys, I present a random sampling of what I usually capture on film after the phrase "smile for the camera" is uttered.
Lest you think I'm making this up, here is another set of vacation photos sabotaged by my boys:
I have literally hundreds of photos like these. They are not products of a parent prompting, "Come on, boys, let's make some silly faces!" No, these are actual shots of my offspring refusing outright to give me one decent smile. These pictures are only good for one thing: making graphics for my blog.
So, here is a rundown of the morning we attempted to have our family photo taken for the annual Christmas card.
9:00 a.m. Begin dressing four boys in coordinating outfits. Field indignant questions from older two sons on why they have to wear "fancy sweaters" instead of rumpled t-shirts they slept in overnight.
9:15 a.m. Search house frantically to find matching shoes for the baby. Ignore reasonable requests from husband to calm down ("He doesn't walk yet, so why does he need to wear shoes? Who's going to look at his feet anyway?").
9:30 a.m. Chase boys around house in futile attempt to apply hair gel. Field additional questions from sons on why they have to comb their hair anyway.
9:40 a.m. Locate pair of matching shoes that are unfortunately two sizes too large for baby. Accept defeat and vaguely nod to voice of reason, i.e. husband, who mutters for the third time: "Trust me, no one's going to notice."9:55 a.m. Swipe hair gel in boys' hair as they run out the door.
10:00 a.m. Attempt initial shots at first choice of location. Listen to repeated complaining from boys about the sun being in their eyes. Ignore melodramatic demands to be provided sunglasses to wear in photo. Realize that one of baby's ill-fitting shoes must have fallen off his foot on the way to photo location.10:10 a.m. Move to a shady location after prolonged complaints about the sun. Attempt further efforts to recreate saccharine "hugging family" pose pinned last week from Pinterest. Efforts are derailed when oldest son begins to climb "hugging family" like a tree trunk.
10:15 a.m. Baby and 4-year old begin odd combination of yelling, laughing and crying in sync. Take 15 minute break for younger sons to calm down. Upon realizing opportunity for freedom from onerous family obligation, older sons use breaktime to climb trees.
10:30 a.m. Resume phototaking attempts. Baby begins grabbing my nose and poking fingers into my nostrils.
10:55 a.m. Baby falls asleep. After series of shots with baby's face turned away in sleep position, photographer (my ever-patient sister) asks if we want to try again next weekend. Husband and I look at each other, glance at our boys hanging from tree branches, and shake our heads "no" at the same time. Photo session is officially canned.