Picture Day

I was surfing Flickr and stumbled upon this photo.

Naturally, I immediately emailed it to everyone I knew.

It seemed to elicit two distinct responses. Some immediately boarded the lollercoaster; others said they could hardly look at the photo, it made them so sad. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that parents were largely of the first opinion, and folks without kids of the second.

Here’s the funny thing about parenthood. On the one hand, having a child makes you inexplicably start loving all children. The Queen and I were pretty indifferent to the pants-pooping demographic before The Squirrelly was born, wanting to have one of our own only out of a desire for a minion. But now that we’ve up and made a kid, we’re suddenly flirting with infants on the bus and calling redheaded six year-olds “Sport” at the supermarket. When we’re eating in a restaurant and a couple with a baby sits at the next table, we cheerfully wave and make faces at the squirt, instead of bolting our food and fleeing for the exit, vowing never to return, as we would have five years ago.

On the other hand, parenthood tends to make you revel in the small injuries and indignities to which children are subjected (or inadvertently subject themselves). Before, upon observing an inattentive child walk headlong into a fence post, I would gasp in alarm and rush to his aid; now I’ll roar with laughter and take a mental snapshot of the scene, something to chuckle over for months to come. It’s a little bit of rebellion against our masters.

So if there are any childless women reading, bookmark this entry. The next time your period is a few weeks later, you may want to come back and take a gander at the photo above; if you snicker, it’s time to start shopping for bassinets.

89 thoughts on “Picture Day

  1. Weird, I didn’t fit into this. I have two kids, and I flirt with kids in restaurants and markets, but this picture made me sad.

    1) Poor kids, they don’t want to be there.

    2) Stupid adults trying to force-capture a moment.

    I don’t know why this wasn’t funny to me. I usually love it when my 2yr-old walks around with a blanket on his head, bumping into walls.

  2. When I hear a kid crying on an airplane these days, my only reaction is to think, “Thank God it’s not mine.”

    Kids cry, all the time. When they are born, it’s the only way they have to affect the world, and change their environment. As a parent, you have to implement that, but you don’t have to get caught up in their emotion. It’s probably better if you don’t.

  3. Before I had my own kids, I loved all kids. Now that I have my own whom I adore, I can’t stand other people’s children. Especially when they’re all snotty and crying. Talk about a “bucket of yuck.”

  4. Everytime I run across someone who’s outraged by the Greenberg exhibition I can’t help but wonder how they’ve managed to watch babies and little kids cry in movies/on teevee for decades and decades (and decades). Because surely those people know the movie/teevee tears were manufactured in precisely the same way as the ones in those stills.

    I’ve never stumbled across any twisted panties over that, but MAN, some undies got SERIOUSLY mangled over those Greenberg images. Just seems odd to me.

    And the photo posted here IS funny. In a, you know, saying “aaaw, poor babies” while laughing my ass off kind of way.

  5. I’ll admit, I chuckled when I saw this. The thought that some people find it sad never even crossed my mind, until you said so.

    I’m not a parent myself, but I do have four younger siblings and divorced parents, so I might as well be a parent. My youngest sister is in third grade and I’m in graduate school – so I’ve had my fair share of parental experience.

  6. MOST of the parents laughed (and are still laughing) because they have been there and done that #$@# – and are just glad these aren’t their kids! It happens, it sucks, but it is funny later! Just be glad there was no sound…

  7. >e.thermal, you may be surprised to learn that people are not dogs.

    Right arm. Having irrational fears is a stage of development that humans go through because our imaginative powers start to kick in; belittling those fears or forcing kids to face the object of their fears is counterproductive. Dogs don’t have imaginative powers.

    Your adult buddy who shrieks at birds has OTHER problems; without knowing his story, it’s hard to say whether his parents are responsible. But I can tell you one thing: If they made him sit through “The Birds” or forced him to have a pet canary, it wouldn’t have helped.

  8. My daughter is 20 months old and it took about an hour to get a picture where she didn’t look angry or upset and was looking at the camera at the Picture People. I felt kind of sorry for the lady taking the picture because she worked sooooooo hard and our daughter wasn’t cooperating. Next year, she should be old enough to understand bribery… last year, she wasn’t mobile. I loved this picture because it reminded me that other people’s kids aren’t compliant either.

  9. Oh please, people. Let’s get up in arms when children aren’t being fed properly or are getting their arms twisted around because they spilled the dog’s water dish. This picture is just kinda funny. Not in a teasing way, but in a I’ve-been-there way.


  10. Parents also know that kids bounce up down the emotional ladder with amazing speed. 30 seconds after this picture was taken those two kids could be laughing and rolling around on the floor. I’m often amazed at the capacity of children to forget they were wailing at the top of their lungs two minutes ago.

    That is why its funny to parents; they know this kids reaction is greatly out of proportion the problem and two minutes later it won’t matter.

  11. I’m a mom of 3 young boys, and last year’s holiday card featured a shot of two of them laughing at their baby brother. You see, he’d cried throughout the photo shoot (I’m the photographer in the family), and as a last resort, just to be funny, my husband grabbed him by the ankles and hung him upside down. The shutter fired and we gave up, but as I sorted through the dozens of outtakes, that was the keeper shot. Other than some teasing from my mother-in-law about calling child protective services, everybody else we know told us it was their fave card of the season–and as I recall, all were parents. (He was upside down for like two seconds, if anyone’s wondering).

    I also laugh every time I see this one, also from 2005:


  12. Ok, I’m not a mother, but I still laughed at that photo. Why? Because I’m a photographer who used to work on studio portraits. Those photos happen a lot more often than you’d think, and more often than not all you can do is stand there helpless while the parents decide if it’s worth it to bring them back later after they’ve had lunch and a nap. The funniest thing about this photo isn’t the kids, it’s that I know what the behind-the-scenes looks like.

  13. oh hell yes- that is hilarious. we have 15 month old triplets and i don’t flinch when they fall or bump into things and each other until they cry for at least 10 seconds.

  14. judging by the red eyes and noses and the messed-up hair that was oh-so-perfect when they started this, these kids have been crying and miserable for quite a while before this pic was snapped.

    Shame on the parents for not cutting their losses and taking them out of there. If you lose your sitting fee, tough beans. Shame on the photographer for not saying — hey, this just isn’t working. How about you guys go outside, get a drink and a breath of fresh air, and I’ll work you back in when everyone’s ready to deal with it.

    This is way beyond just upset, folks — this is real agony, and it’s more than a little disturbing that somebody thinks this is funny.

  15. OH-MY-GAWD! I was busting up laughing when I saw that photo, before I even read your blog. SO VERY TRUE! I have a one year old, and I think being a parent does change your outlook on the crying baby face. I recently visited a friend in Canada, who has a gorgeous black-and-white close-up of her baby’s face in the midst of a good cry. It made me smile – I loved it. She loves the photo too, but says that it gets mixed reactions, including from the Grandma, who finds it sad. I think grandparents (like people without children) also become removed from the humor of baby cries.

  16. I not only laughed, I made it my wallpaper. So I’m that weirdo at word with a computer proudly displaying the pain of two children that don’t even belong to me.

  17. Came here via Camacho.TV and I’m not only bookmarking this photo (which, I admit, made me spit pancake on my screen) I’m bookmarking you, too.

    As a parent staring down the barrel of two, I think I’ll have this picture of my own kids in another year or so.


  18. Oh yeah! I have something similar from when my youngest daughter was that age. The woman at the photography place had so much garish make-up on that she looked like a clown and what kid at that age isn’t terrified of clowns.

  19. I have to say that I chuckled – and that I have five kids. We gave up (early on!) trying to get studio group pictures taken. It was always a totally miserable experience for everyone involved. One year in my quest for the Perfect Family Portrait, I called weeks and weeks early to get my choice appointment time – exactly timed between naps and snacks. I had comfy clothes for the kids that they liked; I went in two days before to fill out the paperwork, pick out backgrounds etc. I had emergency snacks and their own toys (not the manky ones from the studio). I had planned for everything – everything that is, except for two of my sons running into each other at full speed the day before the picture! One had black eyes and the other had a huge goose egg in the center of his forehead. I canceled our appointment and from then on, we’ve settled for snapshots.
    Oh – and for whoever it was that said something along the lines of “from how red their eyes are, they’ve obviously been miserable for a while”…my toddlers could go from angelically pale and placid faces to red-rimmed eyes, snot floods, and scarlet cheeks in microseconds! I’m sure those kids are fine. Really.

  20. Making kids cry for the purpose of taking a photo should be criminal. On the other hand, I bite my tongue NOT to laugh when one of mine runs head on into any inanimate object! On the bassinet shopping; BITE your tongue & CROSS your LEGS!!!!!!!

  21. This picture definitely not sponsored by Disney’s marketing deparment…

    I was recently in Warsaw where they have a Pooh Bear Street (Ulica Kubusia Puchatka) and it is pleasing to repiort that the picture of Pooh and Piglet which grace each end of it are taken from the E.H.Shepard originals and not the Tigger-Come-Lately Disney versions. Go our ex-Communist brethren!

  22. do i have to HAVE kids to think this is funny? can i just WORK with kids? can i admit that i laughed really hard when one of my kids, fearing the theft of his granola bar as he went to throw out his wrapper, took it with him to the garbage and accidentally dropped it in? can i still laugh having admitted that he was profoundly upset by this, and near tears? is it sacriligious to assert that i see divine justice every time a kid turns around to give me a smart remark, and doing so, walks into a wall? i have ten five-year-olds, and frequently consider setting them on fire a little bit, or infusing two of them with opposing magnets, so they can’t go near each other any more. i’m a bad person. so are you, yeti. but this might make you laugh http://www.toothpastefordinner.com/120106/sub-basement.gif

  23. eh. i’ve been laughing at kids/people making asses of themselves for longer than i can remember. it’s probably directly connected to the fact that my mother tended to laugh at me when i did something stupid. family traits and whatnot.

  24. While I have no kids, but am helping raise someone else’s, I can say without question: this pic is funny. The babies arent injured, so what’s the big deal?! Babies cry- it’s what they do. If they didn’t, they’d be teenagers, and it would be called Whining. Does teenage whining break any hearts? No, and this pic is no different. Make them cry more!!!!!!!

  25. I’ve got to say, my first reaction was brief concern for the kids, which quickly turned to laughing til tears I had tears on *my* face. Something about all those stuffed animals (THREE Tiggers!!) — symbols of childhood innocence, comfort, and yes, joy — transposed with the misery on these kids’ faces went right to my funny bone.

    I’m a mom, obviously.

  26. Parent or not a parent, if you can’t laugh at this, there’s something wrong with you. It’s hilarious. These kids are not in any pain other than the pain that comes with having a good, hard cry. The fact that the photographer actually thought to snap the shutter for this one is what’s truly amazing…and THEN add to that the fact that someone saved this pic, scanned it and POSTED it…wow.

    There’s nothing wrong with laughing about children crying over nothing when you’re an adult. Surely we all remember some stupid thing we were in tears about at age 6…and if you think about seeing the little YOU, crying his/her self silly over not getting a Baby Alive (you pick your trauma and I’ll pick mine, thanks), you’ll find that it’s hilarious.

    And if it’s not, well…go see the doctor, because your funny bone is BROKEN.

  27. Let me tell you a little bit about what is going on in this picture, and take it from me. I am an experienced photographer and all of you that are bashing the photographer have it all wrong… remember that this parent or parents came to a studio to get pictures taken, some of which dont have time to come back again and want it done right NOW!! some parents are even behind the photographer and screaming take it! take it! and confusing the child on what is really going on… its not the photographers fault that children are out of control, that parents allow them to do what ever they want, so that they can have what ever they want. the only victum here is the photographer…. sheesh!!!

    we should all take this as a lesson, regardless if you have children or not. Don’t do this to your children… WHAT THE F**K IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE????

    if you think this picture is ok, then take the damn picture at home, why pay for it?

    Some children are scared of the backdrops/backgrounds… why are you putting them in a situation that can be traumatizing to them?

    God Bless you all… and good luck. Parenthood is not easy.

    just like someone said, NEXT time use a Rubber.

  28. I did neither laugh or feel sorry for the children….I felt sorry for the Mother! You know she’s hoping the photographer can somehow get a shot where the cry looks like laughter!

    A sigh of relief…I’m not the only one that has been through this!

  29. Sunny- who made the comment “this is real agony”- cracked me up! She (he?) obviously hasn’t been around too many kids. Real agony for a two year old can be everything from a dropped cookie to having whatever dirty little thing they are trying to eat removed from their hands. I am a pediatric nurse- I have seen kids in real agony. This is not it. I wish my patients would cry like this- it would mean they are healthy and normal! Kids in real agony tend not to cry much.

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