It all started innocently enough. After an hour's drive to the nearest portrait studio, we pull into the mall and Olivia, observant as usual, hollers, "Choo choo train!" She recognizes the place where we've recreated in the choo choo train play area and thinks this is our sole purpose for being here. "That's right," I told her. "We'll play on the choo choo after our pictures." That seemed to satisfy her. We arrived in the portrait studio and the plan was Olivia first, then Nate, then the two together. She cooperated with the photographer's requests, well, at least as much as her attention span would allow. We got some very pretty pictures of this charming and charismatic young lady.
That is where the light and happiness ends. It was Nate's turn to strike a pose but Olivia had in her little 2 year old mind that it was time for the choo choo train. After all, she cooperated, and mommy said "after the pictures," right? A meltdown erupted. While Nate was being photographed, I was on the side lines with Olivia as she kicked, screamed, tried to punch me and threw her body limp onto the floor. How we got any decent pictures of her brother with that going on I'll never know. Thank you portrait gods.
Our photographer was so patient. She tactfully suggested we take a break, get a snack or drink, and maybe visit the play area. "We don't have any other appointments until 4, so take as long as you need." (And she must have been thinking, "and please come back with the sweet, demure little girl you walked in here with instead of the little @$%*head she morphed into.") So, we did just that. Olivia walked all the way through the mall holding my hand and trying to contain her excitement about the choo choo. We played for 30 minutes or so, then headed back into battle.
She was a little rambunctious when we were trying to get pictures of her and Nate together, but was, for the most part, cooperative. However, when the camera stopped flashing, "Olivia dark" reappeared. She decides to start running a 40 yard dash into Sears. As I'm chasing her, I'm also wrestling with Nate. I feel like I'm running down the field holding onto a 20 pound football for dear life as he bounces around, my arm squeezing him with the force of an anaconda. When I finally catch her, after ducking and diving in between the clothes racks, she decides to lose the use of her legs. So now I am dragging a lifeless toddler through Sears and back to the Portrait Studio. This series of events, the escape, the chase, the capture, the drag back, happens three or four times. I admit defeat. I tell our photographer that I'll have to order my pictures over the phone. I shove my credit card across the counter and just pray that she doesn't make another mad dash.
By the time we get loaded into the car, I can actually feel my blood pressure soaring, pounding. My hands are shaking and I've broken out into a sweat. If I could have right there, I would have laid down in the back and curled up into the fetal position, whimpering. Needless to say, there will be no more Olivia portraits until she turns at least three. I have been assured by portrait studio staff that three is the magic age when they actually enjoy having their picture taken. They actually like to pose. Let's hope she's right. I don't think I'd survive another experience like that. With Nate, I'll be smarter. I won't even bother with a formal portrait session between the ages of 18 mos and 3 years. Don't even want to risk it!