This past Saturday, we had an appointment to have our family portrait taken by the people who are doing the church's "annual" pictorial directory.
I say "annual," because I have no idea what the actual word is that means "we do this horrible thing once every six years."
Sure, doing a pictorial directory for the church is a great idea. In theory. And I'm sure all those families out there who only have a couple of perfect children have absolutely no problems getting them all dolled up and smiles pasted on their plastic faces have absolutely no issues with doing family portraits like this.
And then there's us.
Do you remember the movie The Klumps? Or maybe it was in The Nutty Professor. But I believe it was The Klumps where this happened.
The scene started out with the family all lined up and walking across the parking lot. It was evening. There was a light behind them, so all we could see of them was their outlines. Descending--slowly--on an all-you-can-eat restaurant. The dad says "Klumps, party of six, please." And then the mother says "Yes, and we're hungry."
Except she doesn't say it "hungry." She draws it out. "Yes, and we're huuuunnnngggrrrrraaaaayyy."
And the horrified look on the poor staff's faces are classic.
This is the same kind of look I saw cross the poor photographer's face as we walked in to take our family portrait. Me, The Editor, and the four Cub Reporters--ages 11, 9, 5, and 3. And the five year old and the three year old were...ahem..."excitable." You see, we had just come off a very busy morning. We worked out at the YMCA, then ran home, scrubbed the sweat off our bodies, got the children dressed, got ourselves dressed, got the youngest two children dressed again, put the dogs in their cages, got the youngest two children's shoes on again, found everyone's jackets, found the umbrella (because, you know, it just had to rain), put the youngest two children's jackets on again, and headed out the door only to find that it had stopped raining.
Until we got to the church wherein my children decided to descend upon the place like the four horsemen of the apocalypse.
For the next twenty minutes, we made this poor photographer's life a living, breathing Hell. I'm sure he thought we were some of the worst parents in the world, based on our youngest two children's behaviors. And for that, I truly apologize, Mr. Photographer. You were wonderful. My children were banshees. They were dealt with when we got home, believe me. That smile you coaxed out of them? Yeah, it was gone real quick.
Frankly, I'm hoping that they can airbrush out The Editor's and my sweaty brows and make them look fresh and dry. Maybe take a little of the red out of my face as the Cubs got my blood to really pumping.
But I am grateful to you, Mr. Photographer. You actually accomplished something I thought would be impossible: all four of my children were looking at you and smiling when you snapped that picture twenty minutes after we started.
For a ten-minute session.
That's a big reason why we spent more money than I had anticipated us spending. To reward you for all your hard work.
I do hope you get hazard pay. And if you don't, well... I apologize again.
And, no, I don't expect to see you again in six years...