After reading MamaT's hilarious post about taking her kids to get their photos taken for Christmas cards, I was inspired (or really too lazy to think up anything new) and dug around in my pile of old postings to my online mommies group that predated me having a blog to find my story of taking Leah and Rachel to get their pictures taken at Wal-Mart. This was probably late spring 2004 -- Leah was about 4 and a half and Rae was just past 2 years old.
Well, Friday night I took the girls to get their pictures taken. "Do you want me to come?" said Dean. "No," I replied, "I can handle it". EEEEHHH, or however you spell the noise made by one of those loud annoying buzzers that signals when you're wrong. And I was wrong.
As usual, I waited until the last minute. The girls had received some beautiful summer clothes as presents at Easter, and I wanted to commit them to film before Leah and Rachel wore them and got them dirty and lived-in-looking. Oh, and I'm taking the girls home to Windsor in 10 days for a family visit, and I want to pack the clothes, so I had to get the photos taken sooner rather than later.
So I called up the Wal-Mart Portrait studio and tried to book a weekend morning appointment. Yeah, I could get one. IN SEPTEMBER. So, I think a minute and arrange for 6 p.m on Friday night. It'll be OK, I reassure myself, I'll pick them up from daycare, get them changed, fix their hair, bribe them to be good by promising McDonalds after the sitting, and it'll all be just peachy.
It starts out according to plan. I pick the girls up and we go home to change. I want Rae's hair to look really curly in the picture, so I spritz her hair with a spray bottle of water. I brush Leah's hair and off we go. It's cold, so I put pants on them under their summer skirts. We get to the studio 5 minutes early, and then the fun begins. The studio is at the back of the store, near the fabric and craft section. Rachel takes off her pants and is sitting like an angel. I turn my back for one second to help Leah, and Rachel's off like NASCAR driver, running giggling and screaming out into the store. I take off after her, yelling to Leah to stay put, and manage to grab Rae by the arm after chasing her through the fabric section. I pick her up, call her a monkey and take her back.
The photographer, Shauna, has no idea what she's in for. The deal is that you pay $5 for your initial package, but they take another 6 pix and charge you the earth for various sized copies of them. Well, it takes 6 times to get a decent picture of both of them together where Leah has a) her eyes open and b) a nice smile not a grimace; and Rachel isn't a) frowning, b) flashing her pull-up, c) flashing her whole bare midsection by pulling up her dress, d) trying to lunge off the platform to get at the toy the photographer is using to get her attention, e) trying to remove the backdrop from its holder at the back of the platform, or f) trying to pull Leah's hair. But we get that decent first picture. Barely.
Now Shauna tries to get an additional 6 pix so nice that I will have no choice but to shell out $60 (which I'm entirely planning on doing, by the way) when she hits the hard concrete wall of Rachel's Unwillingness to Co-operate (or, as we've acronymed it at home due to the frequency of its occurence: 'the RUC').
Shauna is squeezing squeaky toys and making faces, and I'm sitting beside the platform on my mandated parent's stool, promising her candy, french fries, ponies and trips to Disney World and threatening her with no TV unless she sits still and smiles nicely, but to no avail. She pulls her dress up, she tries to jump off the platform, she frowns, she yells, etc., etc. I can see Shauna's composure start to crack as bad picture after bad picture comes up on the viewing screen. We take a couple of Leah, but she has this weird smile on her face that looks like a chipmunk with full cheeks.
Now, time is passing and Shauna finally says, "Look, I have to take 6 pictures, let's just keep the next 4". And so we do. So, when it's time to look at the digital versions and do my ordering, (after I chase after Rae again, barefoot this time, into the Fabric section and retrieve her) the only picture that's good enough to order is the original 'package' shot. It's the first time I've ever gone to Wal-Mart and only paid for the initial package.
My $5.70 pictures will be ready in 3 weeks. I think Shauna might have recovered her sanity by then.
Oh and a post-script to this story. Later that evening, Rachel comes out of the kitchen rubbing her hair. It's wet. "What are you doing?" I ask. "Fix hair", she said. It smelled chemical-y. Dope that I am, I left the spray bottle of carpet cleaner on the counter. She remembered me using the spray bottle of water on her hair earlier, and wanted to do it too. Into the bath she went. Sigh.