I used to take the best baby pictures. I thought I had missed my calling as a professional photographer. It was as easy as putting a bow in Ava's hair or a rattle in Charlie's hand and propping them up against a blanket. They were like modeling clay... I could even push the sides of their mouth up in the corners and mold a little picture perfect smile. Five minutes later, it was emailed off to the family -- printed, framed and displayed on every mantle.
I miss those days. The simple days.
This morning, as my wife left for work, she poked her head back inside the front door and yelled up the stairs, "Ava's bow is on the counter, would you take a quick Halloween photo of them after breakfast?" Sure thing, honey. A quick picture. Got it. It sounded like a simple request, but I know the truth.
The days of a 'quick picture' are over.
Things have become way more complicated.
I tried to find a corner or stretch of real estate within our house that wasn't piled up with toys or have boogies smeared on the wall. I did some minor furniture relocation and secured a prop or two. Around that time, the morning sun decided to come up over the roof of the house across the street and fire a laser beam onto my workspace. There was no turning back. I'd gone this far and given Jen my word that I would take this 'quick picture.'
I dug through the clean laundry basket for a makeshift light diffuser and remembered that there were a few loose thumbtacks on top of the fridge. I dragged a kitchen chair into the living room and balanced myself above the window, tacking my favorite t-shirt into the drywall to block this fiery beacon.
In the ten minutes it took for me to build our temporary photo studio, my kids couldn't manage to remain clean or even close to presentable.
Charlie had managed to get some regurgitated Mini Wheats ground into his jeans and his upper lip sported a dried snot mustache. Ava put herself on the potty and left her leggings, scarf and accessories on the bathroom floor. I pieced them back together and pleaded with them to cooperate with daddy for just one minute, making hollow promises of cookies and candies beyond their wildest imagination.
I asked Ava to put her arm around him, but forgot to emphasize the word GENTLY. Instead, it was a Vulcan nerve pinch which evolved into a full-on headlock. The constant movement was ruining my pictures. I wasn't able to keep the attention of my subjects and allow them to trust me. Maybe I wasn't such a great photographer after all.
Have you ever said a word or phrase a thousand times and it starts to not make sense anymore? Like it doesn't even sound like a real word?
I've said 'sit still' so many times at this point, I'm not certain it's even part of the English language. I think I'm just repeating sounds that don't have any meaning.
When they were babies, I took four or five pictures and I was destined to have one that worked. Now, I bang on the iPhone camera button like I'm sending an urgent telegraph back home from the war. I have to go through a hundred photos to find one that has the greatest percentage of clarity and even then, it's good, but never perfect.
So here you go. HAPPY HALLOWEEN everyone.
I took you a quick picture.
This post originally appeared on "Dad Or Alive"