Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Of Meteors, Mattresses, and Manic Mommys: Our Annual Portrait Sitting

It turns out that the piano recital did not provide me with enough performance anxiety for one weekend, so I also booked a professional portrait sitting for Audrey.  If JC Penney's counts as professional.  Only the best for my gal.  I still haven't given up on this endeavor even though taking Audrey to have her picture taken has been a raging pain in my ass ever since the first time at 4 months old.  I literally give myself a nervous breakdown over her hair, outfit, fingernails, chapped lips, and any visible bruises/scratches.

For some reason it's something that I can't seem to let go of.  You can say what you want about what autism does to our kids, but one thing it doesn't do is make them any less cute.  So while I may be deprived of watching her achieve developmental milestones, attend a general ed classroom without an aid, play sports, go to college, get married, make me a grandmother...whoa, slow down there crazy lady...I will be goddamned if  I won't get a mother-effing GOOD PICTURE OF HER!!!  Not that I put any undue pressure on the situation or anything.

We are so happy that the portrait studio is right
next to the mattress department.  
The mattress department manager is not.









There is something so special about getting a good picture of Audrey because it is so hard-won.  She's OK with the dress up part and has even managed to get used to the environment:  a hot, crowded waiting area filled with cranky kids in their stiff and scratchy Sunday best, tightly-wound parents, frazzled staff, Mannheim Steamroller blaring overhead.  Honestly, it's enough to make me prostrate myself on the ground and start pounding my head into the tile, so I'm not sure how she even does as well as she does.

The one thing that she cannot seem to get used to is the flash bulb popping.  It doesn't make her melt down...it just makes every shot look like she's reacting to a meteor headed for her forehead.  Last year we had an epically wonderful experience which resulted in a multitude of never-to-be-topped poses, so I tried to duplicate it by going to the same photographer, who I was surprised to see still worked there.  But like my Stanley Cup winning Blackhawks, it's looking like we will not pull off the repeat.

I'll save the results for my Christmas form letter post wherein I will pretend that everything about our lives is perfect and clearly so much better than yours.

Can we go home now?

26 comments:

  1. Lol, I say forget about the professional pics - just snap a few more in the store! I hate professional picture places - they're always so crowded and Georgia never smiles for the camera (even though she's clearly the biggest ham for me!).

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  2. I used to have a friend who was a photographer and would take great shots of my son, but we aren't close anymore unfortunately. The school pictures are usually not great and professional places cost so much money that I have pretty much given up on them.

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  3. You know almost every child I've met with autism are truly beautiful and cute- just blessed with these great looks- BUT to get that captured in a picture is soooo hard! I feel your pain (as I'm a mom to my own BEAUTIFUL boy :))

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  4. this being said i'll have to scan our school pictures from the year- the poor kid looks like he's going to cry- but I was there and he was in a great mood...so I just don't get it

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  5. Hey, you got a magnificent photo of her. In the post right below, with a mouthful of cake and frosting squirting between the fingers!! ;-)

    The last professional portrait we had was before Joy was even born, just me & JoyDad & Rose. It was cute and all, but too much trouble, especially when you can have endless fun playing with a digital camera and eventually get SOMETHING adorable. We don't miss the professional shots one bit.

    But I totally want to see the results of yours!! Do we HAVE to wait till Christmas?

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  6. Y'all that have given up are so much smarter than me. This may have been my last go round.

    @Laura: I've tried taking my own, but there is still the flash issue...she's even worse for me. Which means we have to be outside. And I don't go outside after November 1.

    @JoyMama: You're so right...I'll bet I could repeat that cupcake shot with a chocolate Santa butt sticking out of her mouth...or something more Christmas-y like that. You do have to wait until Christmas, but it will be so not worth the wait.

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  7. great post lynn. formal photos, wow, I hope one day i will be that ambitious with the juju...first conquer haircuts...then ear cleaning...then nail cutting...then maybe we'll graduate to photos!!! I wrote about you today on a post. I hope that's ok.

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  8. Hi, I'm a new follower. She's a cutie! I laughed at your comment about your perfect life on your xmas letter.

    I love love the bow she gave at her piano recital.

    I have an 8 year old son with Aspergers.

    Karla

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  9. Oh God, you are a brave woman! As a preschool (then k-2) special education teacher, the words "school picture day" were enough to make me want to call in sick. I was paid to try to get a decent picture of my students (although I maintain I deserved combat pay for that day) and it still was not worth the battle. I kept my digital camera handy throughout the school year and at the end of the year gave each child's parents a CD of the best photos I took of their child which were always better than the school pictures regardless of how many M&Ms I offered up as bribes. Maybe having Audrey explore using a cheap, kid friendly camera would get her familiar with the flash?

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  10. You're not alone! Everytime I go past the JC Penney or even the Walmart picture portrait studio there's a haggered mom trying to control her child or children. Or one mom trying to get her child INTO the studio who has caught a glimpse of the toy department. I gave all that stuff up when my kids turned 4. Why was I beating my head against the wall? So I started taking my own pictures, and they came out SO much better. The kids were more relaxed, and were more proned to smiling on command. With today's digital cameras you could probably get a fantastic portrait of Audrey by yourself.

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  11. I think my family is the reason that Walmart employees no longer wander the produce section trying to drum up business. I'm surprised we didn't make the photographer quit. Especially when her little face crumpled when she realized we were only there for the advertised $4.95 package...not the $300 package of portraits where my kids are snotty and redfaced. Ahhh good times.

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  12. This is hilarious, we can never get a good picture either and now Ashlyn is old enough and articulate enough to tell me that she never wants her picture taken again so the only thing I get is a horrible school picture every year with the shell-shocked flash look on her face.

    Can't wait to see how it turned out, either way it will make a good memory right??

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  13. You'd think, with such cuteness, getting a good picture would be a no brainer. We've given up with Griffin. I love getting the school pictures each year. I should put an album together and post on the FAIL blog. It's like opening an envelope of hysterical laughter each year.

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  14. Maybe you're fatal error is taking her to a photographer. You have adorable pictures of Audrey posted her all the time. Just take them yourself!

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  15. I read a book on aspergers and autism once back when I was searching for answers and in the book it said how children with this condition are almost always exceedingly beautiful, more so than the average child---I thought it an odd statement but I knew it was true. I have never ever seen an ugly child with autism. i swear it is true. I think its like how if you are blind, thenyour hearing is heightened. well I think its the same if you are "mentally challenged" than your outward appearance is excessively beautiful.

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  16. Ditto, then for my kid add glasses! The smudges, the glare, the way the eyes appear tiny and beady through the massive lenses...

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  17. @Kim: I read it put like this once:
    "The children often share a haunting, numinous beauty, as if the intrusion of coherent reality is the thing that ages and distorts the rest of us." I've always remembered that quote even though I read it over 30 years ago...

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  18. I have piles of photos of my Aspie girl looking radiant and happy, by herself. Add any other human being into the equation, and she suddenly looks lost, confused, unhappy, or all three. She knows the script for photos: "Look at the camera and smile". But the presence of other people, whether in a busy studio or other people actually touching her in the photo, seems to distract her too much to follow the script.

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  19. I can't wait for the pics. We don't bother anymore. Just lazy.

    Also have been wanting to do one of those Christmas Form letter posts.. remind me when it is time ok? I'll totally forget to do it.

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  20. Had to make a quick comment....
    Eric's grandma here. Been sneaking in to read for awhile, and love it here.
    My daughter Nikki is a photographer for JC Penny and she is very well known for taking pictures of children with Autism. Many successes and repeat customers! Having Eric gives her patience and idea's.
    Just saying...I'm not bragging or anything. Of course you'd have to come to Upstate New York.
    Oh, did I mention that the only one who won't cooperate with her is Eric. LOL! We have given up trying to take him to the studio. Our candid shots -- along with a little croping of the backgrounds come out so much better.

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  21. Lynn - I am a therapist in the Midwest who started reading some special needs blogs to keep me a little more realistic when I ask things of parents. I also wanted to be a bit more sensitive to what they were/are feeling. I so appreciate your humor and honesty in your blog and I look forward to reading it - thanks for taking the time to make me smile :)
    Shelley

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  22. My kids always photograph looking like the before picture in a laxative ad. Mattress depts. are great indoor playgrounds when it is cold out.

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  23. @Debbie: It might be worth the trip to upstate NY after what we just went through!


    @Shelley: That's great that you are checking out some special needs blogs...thanks for stopping by mine! You can learn as much from my commenters...from their comments as well as their own blogs. We really have a great supportive group here and we've seen each other through pretty much everything. Thanks for making the effort to see things from our side!

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  24. I just saw this and wanted to say our children have yet one more thing in common... Charlie's favorite place in the mall (other than the elevators and escalators) is the mattress department in Macy's. He loves plush, firm, doesn't matter -- he doesn't play favorites, he tries out every single one. I usually check my email on the blackberry while my husband plays mattress with him. They're nice people but sometimes pretend I am not related to them whilst in public.

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