The day didn’t start off bad.
In fact, it was going quite well.
I had met my friend Amanda at the park which meant that I got some adult talk in.
Natalie had run around the park which meant that she took a nap.
This made me happy because we had family pictures later in the day. This meant that she would be in a good mood.
But then Tom’s cell phone rang and I knew right away it wasn’t good news.
I could hear one of his co-workers yelling. Seriously yelling. I didn’t know what was happening. Tom kept saying, “Dude, I honestly didn’t know. I didn’t know,” over and over again.
This wasn’t good.
I knew it wasn’t good.
Then Tom said, “I have family pictures today,” and I could hear his co-worker yell, “I don’t give a flying FUCK about your family pictures.”
That’s so unprofessional, for one.
For two, how rude.
When Tom hung up he sighed. “I have to go.”
“Go where?” I demanded. I was already on the verge of bursting into tears. Even though it was Tom’s day off, he was being called in.
“My dog keeps throwing up. Apparently he ate something in the vehicle when I worked with him. So I got yelled at for not noticing. But I just went in this morning to clean his kennel and he wasn’t throwing up,” Tom explained. “I seriously didn’t notice him eating any part of the vehicle. I also got accused of leaving the dog in the car by himself which I’ve never done. Basically I have to drive to Fort Carson to take him to the emergency vet.”
Fort Carson, by the way, is in Colorado Springs.
Colorado Springs, by the way, is about three hours away from here.
(And by the way, Tom is a K-9 handler in the Air Force.)
“I’ll probably have to stay overnight. I was told to pack a bag,” Tom said and then brushed past me to rush upstairs to grab some clothes.
I followed at his heels. “But our pictures are less than an hour away. Surely they can let you take the pictures before you go...” I trailed off, already full aware of what the answer would be.
“I have to go. Now,” Tom said, throwing clothes into a bag.
So that was that.
I called Wal-Mart to try and reschedule. But they were booked. The only day they weren’t booked was Friday but Tom goes back to work then.
So I decided to just go. After all, Tom hates taking pictures anyhow. This was our family picture from last year:
He looks constipated.
Who wants someone who looks constipated in the picture anyhow?
I told Tom dramatically before he left, “You tell the Air Force that they’ve ruined my day.”
I need to chill out. I wish I could be like those supportive wives who will calmly press their palms together and say, “Well. Things like this happen and we’ll deal with it.”
When we got to the Wal-Mart studio, the kids were in fairly good moods.
Well, Tommy was ticked because he didn’t like the sweater I picked out for him.
“It makes you look handsome. It’s from Gymboree,” I said.
“I hate Gymboree,” he grumbled.
That’s just blasphemy and I chose to ignore it.
The photographer seemed slightly clueless. She set us up for a family photo and she didn’t do anything to get Natalie to laugh. She just was all, “Smile. SMILE!” Lady, to get my kid to smile, you have to act like an ass.
Another photographer who obviously knew what she was doing had to keep popping in to help. She kept saying, “I’m sorry to interject, but…” and then she’d tell Clueless Photographer what she had to do.
It was when I tried to get individual shots of the kids that everything spiraled out of control.
Tommy did fine.
But then when I set Natalie down, she flipped out.
And I’m not just talking about a minor flip out.
I’m talking about a FLIP OUT. You’d have thought that she was just informed that her favorite character from Yo Gabba Gabba had died.
She screamed at the top of her lungs.
The Smart Photographer came rushing in and tried to do all the tricks in the book to get a kid to smile.
I think it made things worse. Because when she started coming at Natalie with a feather duster, Natalie yelped and pressed her face into my knees.
I suppose a feather duster can look quite sinister to a child. Maybe she thought it was a bird that exploded on a stick? Who knows?
I kept saying, “It’s okay. I think we got enough pictures,” but Smart Photographer did not want to admit defeat.
“I’ll get her to smile,” she said firmly. I half expected her to punch her fist in the air. (Faster than a speeding bullet it’s SUPER PHOTOGRAPHER…)
Maybe she’s never dealt with a kid like Natalie.
Strong willed. That’s a polite word for bratty, right?
I mean, don’t get me wrong, she can be sweet. But she can also be complete and total brat.
So can I.
So can most women.
The Smart Photographer dug frantically through her pile of Stuff that Makes Kids Smile. Nothing worked. She tried to hand over a bear that surely had to be covered with swine flu germs but Natalie wasn’t having it.
“NO BEAR!” Natalie shouted. “NO BEAR FOR NATALIE!”
This is when Tommy had a meltdown. He has Aspergers and can be quite sensitive to loud noises. He especially hates it when people cry. So he covered his ears and started to rock back and forth. Then he shouted, “STOP CRYING, NATALIE!” And then he fell down to his knees and screeched, “Why? Why won’t Natalie stop CRYING?” I’m really not sure where he gets his dramatics from....
It was complete and utter mayhem.
I didn’t think it could get any worse.
But it did.
Because I started to cry. I couldn’t calm my kids down, I was upset that my husband wasn’t with us, the entire world has gone Twilight crazed and I’m afraid.....
“Oh,” both photographers said and gaped at me.
I imagine they are used to children crying.
“I’m…sorry…” I sniffled. “I just...I just...”
A tissue was pressed into my palm. Natalie still wailed in the background. Tommy was now balled up on the floor.
“It’s okay. How about we check out the photos we do have?” the Smart Photographer suggested.
I hiccupped. “Okay,” I said meekly and followed her over to the computer.
I showed the kids the playroom and this helped perk them up.
Hey, a bunch of diseased toys we can play with!
The Smart Photographer did the sales pitch about the photos. She mentioned something about a package that was $249 and I giggled. She looked up with a start.
“What? Do I have something in my teeth?” she asked and moved her tongue over them.
I dabbed at my cheeks with the tissue. “Nothing. It’s just, I don’t love my children’s image that much to drop $249 on them.”
Does that make me a bad Mom?
The Smart Photographer looked taken aback. She quickly recovered and started rambling on about other packages.
This is when Natalie went, “Bye,” and started to walk out of the studio and into the store where the People of WalMart.com lurk.
I grabbed her and she went limp on me. Even though she’s only around twenty pounds, she has the ability to make it seem like she’s 100 pounds. She just drops all her weight so I have to struggle to keep her up.
When I sat back down, the Smart Photographer continued on.
I was distracted because Natalie kept trying to leave.
I think I agreed on something because the Smart Photographer suddenly went, “And we’re done!”
Then when I went up to the counter to pay, the Smart Photographer slid a Portrait Members Card at me.
“What’s this?” I said, twisting the card in my fingers.
“It’s your member card. It’s only $10 with the package you bought. You said you wanted it,” she said with a frown.
Probably when Natalie tried to rush out of the store for the tenth time.
Or maybe it was when Tommy started trying to make his armpit make noises.
“So that’ll be one hundred dollars and six cents,” Smart Photographer said.
One hundred DOLLARS?
What in the HELL did I agree on?
I must’ve looked perplexed because Smart Photographer went, “You got the bronze package…”
What’s the hell is that?
A BRONZE package?
“Oh,” I stuttered and slid my debit card at her.
What is GOING ON!?
I guess I’ll figure out exactly what I ordered when I pick up the pictures on December 1st.
Since I spent so much on pictures, this now means I have to cut back on what I buy on Black Friday which makes me slightly cranky.
After the picture debacle, I had to pick up a few things from Wal-Mart.
Tommy threw a fit because I wouldn’t buy him a Transformer.
“Your entire room is filled with Transformers,” I reminded him tiredly.
“But I don’t have the ice cream truck!” he argued.
“Well, I don’t have a lot of things that I want. You have to learn to deal with it,” I said through clenched teeth.
“You’re the meanest Mommy ever! I’m not your son anymore!” Tommy said and stomped his foot.
“Believe me, you’re my son. I have the stretch marks to prove it,” I answered.
“I’m so mad!” Tommy whined.
“Do you mean mad as in angry or mad as in crazy?” I wondered lightly. “In England, the word mad means crazy, you know.”
Tommy’s brow furrowed. “What?”
“Cheer up,” I said and ruffled his hair.
He just crossed his arms over his chest and pouted the rest of the time. He looks like his father when he pouts.
Tom called me later when he got to Colorado Springs.
His dog seems to be okay.
He should be home today.
Since I’m a Portrait Club member (and I’m still not sure what this even means), we’ll try again for family photos at some point.
Maybe when Natalie understands the phrase, “If you cooperate for pictures, you can pick out a toy under ten bucks.”