This Monday was school picture day for the kids and so I dug out the only vaguely presentable button-down shirts they own and hovered nearby at breakfast to repeatedly swab them down before peanut butter made it way onto their collars and I practically transported them to class in hermetically-sealed bubbles, bobbing and weaving with tissues in hand and snatching markers out of their sight and demanding that they be careful with the chocolate milk for the love of god, and of course when I picked them up the teachers were all, oh sorry, pictures have been rescheduled for tomorrow. So all I can say the filthy hobo-children wearing ill-fitting Marvel-themed shirts in Tuesday’s picture would have looked a LOT better if everything had happened when it was supposed to and THAT’S why it’s important to stick to a PLAN, dammit.

Anyway, judge me if you must, but I totally bribed Riley ahead of time and promised him a new Transformer if he would behave for the photo session, because he often gets all weird when a camera looms into view, flapping an exasperated hand and burying his face in a pillow until I feel like a particularly obnoxious paparazzo (“Hey Sandra! Tell us what you think about Jessie’s Nazi-loving trashcooter mistress!”).

It may be that he has some lingering bad memories about traumatic school pictures from the past, too. I’m not sure.

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(By the way, all the picture forms now let us choose the backdrop, possibly as a result of mass protest against the Infamous Turtle Theme of 2007.)

I’d forgotten about the promised Transformer but Riley sure as shit didn’t, practically tackling me as soon as he got in the door to announce that not only had he been good for the photographer, he’d helped Dylan be good too, and can we go to the store NOW NOW NOW how about NOW?

So now my kid has a new Bumblebee Transformer which has already had its arm snap off and requires parental intervention at least fifty times per hour to help put the fucking arm back on again because MOM HE NEEDS TO TRANSFORM RIGHT NOW TO HELP OCTOMUS FIGHT MEGATRON and it’ll be a couple weeks before we even see those photos so who knows what he did for the camera? He could have done this:

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Or this:

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It doesn’t really matter, I suppose. However they turn out, there’s usually an inherent awesomeness to school photos precisely for the fact that they are almost always ridiculous:

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Still, I learned an important lesson about bribery: it helps if you tie it to a quantifiable result, because otherwise what you’re really teaching your kid is the art of subterfuge.

Comments

30 Responses to “Services rendered”

  1. Sunshyn on May 20th, 2010 9:57 am

    Every time we buy a Transformer, it breaks the same day, so we take it back and get our money back. I have refused to buy any more of the dang things, despite the kidlet’s protests that he won’t break THIS one. Too bad they can’t make them as nearly indestructible as the ones in the movies…

  2. Eric's Mommy on May 20th, 2010 9:58 am

    Bribery always works :)

    The turtle, the mushrooms, the leaves, OMG. I remember that one.

  3. Kim on May 20th, 2010 10:04 am

    At first as I was scrolling down I thought that first lower photo of Riley was the new school picture and I seriously almost choked on my sandwich.

  4. Maureen on May 20th, 2010 10:08 am

    Bribery-the mainstay of parenting.

    Although I used to prefer to think of it as having there be a positive consequence for a positive action. I also loved when my daughter could be bribed by such small things (like a Polly Pocket), much harder to do when they are teenagers.

  5. Deb on May 20th, 2010 10:15 am

    The crying pictures always evoke more memories than the pictures with the stiff smiles and the hair pasted down with spit anyway, right?

    I can’t decide if that turtle is cute or creepy…

  6. Dawn on May 20th, 2010 10:25 am

    Your children totally crack me up, I swear. Those school pictures above are awesome!

  7. warcrygirl on May 20th, 2010 10:26 am

    I’m totally into bribery. Whatever works, right? Can’t wait to see the pics.

  8. Amanda on May 20th, 2010 10:36 am

    I’m all for bribery. Payment for a job well done! It works on one of my children.

  9. CBO on May 20th, 2010 10:37 am

    Don’t sweat it. You are not alone.

    For some reason 90% of Juliet’s school pics come back looking like a monster was standing behind the photographer. She looks totally freaked out in each one. The ones where she looks half-way normal she has this wierd look out of her eyes like she just joined the Manson family. Like you’d expect the next frame to be of her mid-stride to the shooter with a bat in her hand.

    Plus, to make matters worse, since Gideon hair has a thick and rough texture to it, everytime we cut it for a school pic, it comes back making him look like Kim Jong-Il’s lovechild.

  10. Christina on May 20th, 2010 10:41 am

    We got the pre-k class photo today in our little’s mailbox and my gawd did I have fun with it! School pictures are filled with awesomeness I cannot explain. Cannot wait to see the kiddos new ones this year!

    Bribery and guilt work hand in hand, no?

  11. saly on May 20th, 2010 10:42 am

    Oh we had the turtle theme here in 2007 as well.

  12. Amy on May 20th, 2010 10:58 am

    Oh my god, the giant crayons.

  13. kalisa on May 20th, 2010 11:09 am

    What the hell are Transformers?

    No, just kidding. That’s that really terrible movie with that really bad actress that my son has a photo of half-naked on his car GPS screen, right?

  14. Ris on May 20th, 2010 11:15 am

    That crayola one, wow. I mean your kid is adorable, don’t get me wrong, but it looks like he’s in danger of being crushed by gigantic school supplies.

  15. Erin on May 20th, 2010 11:38 am

    I love you. So much.

  16. Blabbermouse on May 20th, 2010 12:12 pm

    Nothing wrong with a good old fashioned bribe. That picture of Dylan is … just a parallel universe of cute.

    At my three year old son’s pre-school they send home a notice saying it’s “Picture WEEK.” The photographer walks around all week taking candid pictures of kids, and YOU NEVER KNOW WHEN YOURS WILL BE CHOSEN, SO DRESS ACCORDINGLY.

    Ridonculous.

  17. MRW on May 20th, 2010 12:17 pm

    Damn I hate transformers. My son got one as a gift a few months ago and I swear to god, it came with three pages of instructions on how to transform the damned thing that were impossible for me to follow, nevermind a 7 year old. Finally got it transformed and it has sat on a shelf unplayed with for months – probably because my son sensed I was about to throw it in the garbage disposal and “transform” it into tiny pieces.

  18. Maris (In Good Taste) on May 20th, 2010 12:44 pm

    That picture of Dylan is outrageously cute. It almost looks like he was photoshopped!

  19. Judy on May 20th, 2010 1:08 pm

    Kalisa, they are really terrible toys that supposedly transform back and forth from vaguely humanoidic figures to things like 18 wheelers and volkswagens. Only they never work right and you end up with a cheap-ass figure that would have cost 1/3 as much if you’d just bought the cheap-ass figure in the first place instead of trying to buy a transformer that does dual duty. I hate them. And my son, who introduced them to me, was born in 1971 and I swear I don’t know how those cheesy toys have stayed popular this long.

  20. Heather C on May 20th, 2010 1:29 pm

    Judy, they’ve remained popular so long because the kids who played with them in the 80s are adults now, with kids of their own, and it’s easy to forget how awful those things were.

    Bumblebee was fine, but my brother had this insane “Triple Changer” thing that was a robot, a space shuttle and a locomotive (bzuh?), and it was damn near impossible to transform. Stupidest. Transformer. Ever. Naturally, my brother loved it to death.

  21. Ellen on May 20th, 2010 2:12 pm

    I think school pictures have gone downhill ever since the laser background went out of style. (I never got that but my parents let my little sister get one… it is the most ’80s thing EVER.)

  22. lisa on May 20th, 2010 2:31 pm

    haha, those photos were great. Especially the one where Dylan is about to be eaten by gigantic crayons. When i was a kid we also had some pretty elaborate background choices: Blue, Red, or Green.

  23. Lesley on May 20th, 2010 6:19 pm

    School pictures are always at least a little off. I definitely look like a mullet-sporting boy in my first grade photo. And there are other, family pictures from that year where I look like a normal little girl, so what the hell happened?

    The picture of Dylan with the crayons is fantastic. He’s going to be SUCH a flirt.

  24. Victoria on May 20th, 2010 6:20 pm

    Most fantastical photos.

  25. 6512 and growing on May 20th, 2010 8:00 pm

    Oh no! Weird mushrooms and child-eating crayons! Couldn’t they just um, snap a photo of a kid on a nice green lawn? You’ve got a few of those in the Northwest right?
    This post was hilarious! (I am amazed at your ability to work full time, go to school, parent and turn out awesome writing).

  26. Leslie on May 20th, 2010 9:27 pm

    Except for the one with him sitting in the dog’s bed, that first snap might be my favorite picture of Riley. *Such* a Calvin face that I keep looking around for Hobbes.

    And, of course, his picture days were historic: http://tinyurl.com/ybq243j

  27. Erika on May 21st, 2010 4:23 am

    We had the crayon background too, at preschool pictures. I’m still amazed by my kids’ teachers’ ability to get them to cooperate with the photographer. I know if I was paying $300 for a sitting it would be a disaster.

    I feel you on the “reschedule”. Last year was my first opportunity to “have siblings photographed together!” and we found out a week later that the camera had malfunctioned.

  28. Mary on May 21st, 2010 5:47 am

    Oh yes, the spin and subterfuge. We offer elaborate rewards (gum) for cooperation and good efforts in the classroom and he’s always “yay, two thumbs up” while the teacher stands there looking bent and hollow-eyed, slowly shaking her head. And when we inquire of him about what could have the teacher thinking it was a rough day, it’s always . . “oh that, I forgot that”. Always ready with what he thinks will go over well.

  29. Leah on July 10th, 2010 3:40 pm

    Just found your blog today in a roundabout way. I also have two boys – 2.5 and 4.5. Just wanted to tell you that we went through the transformers crazy, too – what a mess! I could barely transform the damn things, and my older son tried his hardest but mostly it was just me referring to instructions all day. I saw someone with Bakugan, and picked up a few, and we’re all hooked! They’re cheap-ish (3 for $8 at Target) and honestly really clever in the way they fold up, and they’re all super-manageable for both kids to fold back up again. Hope that’s helpful!

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