Personal Statement

Personal Statement

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Shooting Christmas Card Photos in Oklahoma (NOT Like Shooting Fish in a Barrel, Not By a Long Shot)

So the Christmas card photo shoot in Beavers Bend Park went down like this: we put the boys in matching long-sleeved polo shirts and sweater vests and asked them to pose next to the carving of a big bear hugging on a little bear. The idea was that they would mimic the bears, with Connor standing behind Parker and hugging him around the shoulders. In retrospect, what in the heck were we thinking? The temptation to wrestle, giggle and squirm was just too much. But then, as per usual, the silliness led to violence. I don't remember the exact details, but Parker hurt Connor, and - also as per usual - Connor blew it WAY out of proportion.

Did I mention that there was a large group of high school-aged hikers and their chaperones occupying the picnic tables right in front of the bears? No doubt the presence of an audience contributed to the kids' craziness, and it certainly motivated me to grab the kids and whip them around the corner when the fussing started.

On to Plan B . . . . The bears stood next to an outdoor fireplace, and on the wall behind the fireplace there was a large pile of pumpkins. I suggested that the kids pose on the pumpkins, and Connor gamely scrambled up to the top. Parker, after many feigned tumbles down the pumpkin hill, sat below Connor, Connor put his hands on Parker's shoulders, they both smiled angelic smiles, and then . . . Connor wrapped his hands around Parker's neck and SQUEEZED. Parker, of course, tumbled off of his pumpkin perch, screamed bloody murder and burst into tears - photo op absolutely ruined. Connor, for his part, had an expression on his face that clearly said, "Sorry, Mom, but the opportunity was there, and I had to take it."

At this point, Dad's patience wore out. Boys were relegated to separate corners and given stern talkings-to. Meanwhile, Mom kept snapping, and I have to say - they both photograph REALLY WELL when they are pouting. Too bad "introspective" wasn't the look I was going for for our holiday card.

After a little coaxing, we got them both to agree to at least sit in the vicinity of each other and look somewhat pleasant, even if their smiles were a tad bit forced:

Then we consented to Parker's request to be given temporary custody of the camera so that he could photograph a nearby totem pole. Connor jumped into the photo, which, given the fact that tempers were running so high, SHOULD have led to World War III, but for reasons surpassing understanding Parker opted for the opposite reaction - laughed hysterically, and insisted on jumping into the picture himself:

Much silliness ensued, and - seasoned parents that we are - we decided to let it run its course.

Then we distracted the boys with a walking stick:

Result: we got a couple of good pics, and brotherly harmony was restored, however temporarily.

The first shot above is what I had in mind, minus Connor's "awkward family photo" expression. The second one more accurately captures their separate personalities - separate being the key word. Notes to file: both boys on same side of bear, recipe for disaster. Bear as buffer, spot-on.

Add to my list of "before I had kids" topics, "before I had kids, I did not truly grasp the concept of a love/hate relationship." What amazes me, as an only child with zero first-hand sibling warfare experience, is the speed with which hate turns into love, and back again. I am reminded of my days in the sorority house: the loudest fights always seemed to erupt from the suites occupied by real, blood-related sisters, but ten minutes later you would see those same sisters acting as chummy as ever. If you asked them, "What was all of THAT about?" more often than not they would have no idea to what you were referring; the fight was over and out of their minds as quickly as it began. After observing my boys, I totally get it - being siblings means you have a lifetime hall pass. Whatever indignities you suffer at the hands of your brother (or sister), you're stuck with them, and forgiving and forgetting is the path of least resistance. Or, in the words of four year-old Connor when he requested a sibling: "I know that they will take my toys and bite me and be mean to me sometimes, and I won't always like them, but I will have them as my brother or sister forever, so that makes the other stuff okay." Wise words from a wise kid who loves his brother like crazy, and vice-versa - even when they are (literally) at each other's throats.

1 comment:

Chic Wino said...

love the last one, and they are boys the pics are suppose to capture their true inner self, girls are just cheesy fake smiles. at least these are genuine!!