The family photo, as I ponder it … I remember how tough it was when our kids were little. There was the familial wrestling photo we took without a referee in 1998, the boxing photo of 2003, and the day I dropped to my knees and prayed for endurance before I covered my little darlings’ scrapes and bruises with concealer and asked the photographer if he could airbrush a black eye.
Time passed, but things didn’t change much. Take, for example, the Christmas photo shoot of 2011. I tried to arrange the family in a celestial way that would convey our love, but long before anyone said “cheese” a fight broke out.
It all started with a love tap from Charlie to Huey and Huey rose to the challenge. In an attempt to retaliate against Charlie, he accidentally nudged Lawrence and knocked him into Vernon.
“Way to make Mom fake her smile for the picture!” Charlie exclaimed.
Through the scrapping and the brawling and the occasional calling of names, they sprinted across the yard. Had I been wearing a referee’s garb and a whistle about my neck, rather than stylish jewels, I would have called unsportsmanlike conduct on the clan and forced them to repeat first down.
Needless to say, there was no good picture taken that day. Instead, I settled on one that consisted of Lawrence texting, Huey holding donkey ears over Charlie’s head and my beloved spouse seemingly pondering nuclear fusion.
The only thing going for that picture was that my hair looked good.
My attempt to take a family picture during the summer of 2015 takes the cake. All of the kids were home, the light was right and, thanks to ingenuity on my part, the camera was perched on a cardboard box and ready to snap the shot.
“It’s time,” I called down to the basement to ready the fam.
“Yes it is!” our eldest son, Vernon, called back as he led the troops up the steps. “Let’s go men!”
One can easily imagine my dismay as I saw my sons sporting basketball shorts instead of slacks, T-shirts instead of ties and oversized sneakers as they did a bounce pass across the foyer.
“Where do you think you are going?” I called out in horror.
“It’s time to show these noobs how to shoot,” Vernon said as he held the basketball on his forefinger and proceeded to give it a spin as he led his charges out to the driveway.
“But what about the family picture?”
“Oh, we’ll do that when we’re done,” he replied and in doing so ruined my day.
Needless to say, there was no family picture taken after the big game as showers were a must. Nor was one possible after the showers because Lawrence had a “thing.”
Although they promised to let me snap the family photo after Mass the next morning, Vernon needed a nap and Charlie fell ill to a flu and flushed my dreams of a family photo down the tubes.
This year we have been blessed with our first college graduate and I’m sure you will trust me when I say the occasion simply screamed “family photo!”
We, as a clan, surrounded Vernon, his graduation garb and that high-dollar diploma with pride as we grabbed the first passer-by and asked him to capture the moment for us.
As I reflected back on pictures past, I thought how easy it would be to commemorate our memories. Since most of our sons are grown men, no punches would be thrown, no donkey ears would be included and surely no one would give a wet Willie as the photographer shouted “cheese.”
In fact, the picture would have been perfect if the sun had cooperated and not bleached out the picture. Not wanting to disappoint the volunteer photographer, we thanked him for his time and sent him on his way.
The next person we grabbed was a nice gal with a camera hanging on her shoulder with a lens that was reminiscent of a telescope. Surely she could properly capture the moment.
As we said “cheese,” “happy times,” and “who’s your mom?” she clicked like it was her job. She captured smiles and photos that would have been perfect … if only they were in focus.
There again, not wanting to disappoint, we thanked the nice amateur photographer and sent her back to her family.
We chose our next photographer carefully. He had a bag full of tricks, a tripod, and he seemed to really have a corner on the market for the tricks of the trade.
When we reviewed the photos, we were thrilled to see that the lighting was right, the angles were spectacular and my hair didn’t look too bad. If he hadn’t left Lawrence out of all 10 shots, they would have been the bombdiggity.
Somehow it makes airbrushing a black eye seem like a walk in the park.
Lori Clinch is the mother of four sons and the author of the book “Are We There Yet?” You can reach her by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.