Monday, January 23
Once upon a time......
But no, really-- once upon a time I found this GIANT green prince frog at Target as I was walking around with Joe. I don't think Lucy was even more than a baby at the time. And the frog was deeply discounted and just so silly and HUGE, and I had a sudden vision of my girl as a princess with this frog. So I bought him with the sole intention of doing a "princess and the frog" photo shoot with Lucy someday.
Fast forward more than a few years: I'd finally happened across a perfect dress and a sweet headband and I decided it was time. I talked it up to Lucy and she was cool with the plan. I waited til my boys were at my folks' house for their turn at summer "Grandparent Camp" so Lucy and I would have the house to ourselves. It was all going to be so perfect-- FUN and girly and a fulfillment of a vision I'd had long before. I even had one of my friends over to braid her hair since I'm not super great at french braiding.The scene was SET.
Except then Lucy decided right as I was ready to go that she didn't love this idea anymore. The dress was scratchy. She felt put on the spot. She didn't want to kiss a stuffed frog.
I just..... I mean.... really? Are you SURE, Lucy? I can't fake-cheerfully try to tell you why this is gonna be AWESOME and cute and FUN? *insert undercurrent of stressy mom-tographer frustration*
I took the dress back off of her and put a shirt and leggings on under it. Scratchiness minimized. I offered a whole list of possible bribes. I got her to at least sit in front of my camera. I tried to breathe deeply. And I tried to find that undercurrent of stress in myself and blow it away... tried to tap into a sincere empathy and understanding of my girl. Tried to find what it might take to help her lighten up and just.... participate a little, because she wanted to, and not just because I was begging.
I tried to just talk to her.... To show her that I didn't need this to be precisely what I'd envisioned... that we could just hang out-- Lucy, the frog and I-- and maybe it wouldn't be so bad. I went inward and made myself let go of what I thought this shoot should've "looked like." I just took it slower and took photos of whatever was actually happening with her as we talked.
And even then, we still had some moments of reluctance and even a few more tears (she REALLY didn't want to kiss the frog. Oh, Lucy- but it's SO CUTE! And not even slimy!)... But I found myself drawn into her wide eyes, and her softer expressions as a result of her mood being a little melancholy. She was still the loveliest little princess, and I still loved these moments.
A little more talking through it, and we got our kiss. And it wasn't even terrible, right, Lucy?
And finally, a real smile... my happy Lucy, right at the end.
So even though it wasn't exactly what I thought it would be, we had a sweet, tender, learning experience in the less than 15-minute session we did here. I got to take photos in spite of her mood, and she got to have a mama who worked at relaxing the control and stress, and we both ended with smiles. And then we promptly ditched that dress and got her back into play clothes and had a great rest of the day-- some art-making, some "Magic School Bus" watching, and even a trip to the swimming pool together in the afternoon, just being mermaids together. (I told you this was once upon a time... back in August, to be precise!!)
I hope as the years go by, my kids appreciate the photos... but also remember that sometimes I succeeded at turning off the "photographer bossy stress face" and remembered to just try to listen and talk and laugh a little as we did our photos together.
Posted by Emily S. at 10:07 AM