Reflections on motherhood...


Friday, September 23, 2011

Motherhood lesson #3

How to take your toddler to get a passport photo, and leave the shop with your nerves in tact.

Sorry, I'm afraid it's not possible. Either get his passport photos done when he's a few weeks old, or forget about international travel until after age five. The latter approach probably involves less stress for everyone anyway.

If you want to know how "the third way" might go for you, read on...

I took Milkbaby to get a passport photo last week.  Naively thinking that it would only take a few minutes, I popped in to the photo shop on our way home.  The rest of the afternoon went something like this:

I sit him on the seat.  He stares, open-mouthed, at the girl taking his picture.

"He'll need his mouth closed." she says.

He grins at her, displaying his pearly-whites.  I encourage him to close his mouth, by making closed-mouth faces at him.  He laughs at me, then stares with his mouth open some more.

He gets bored and starts investigating the chair he's sitting on.  He tries getting down from the chair.  I sit him back on the chair.  He grins at the girl some more.  He points and waves at her.  By now, he figures, they're becoming friends.

We turn the chair around, so he's kneeling on it. The girl tries to get his attention again.  I try holding his gaping mouth shut, and then taking my hand away at the moment of the photo.  It doesn't work.

We try lying him down on a white sheet.  Before the girl lifts the camera to her face, he rolls over and crawls away.

Apples: useful for enticing Snow Whites
and small children.
I'm starting to feel flustered and embarrassed.  The girl asks if I can think of anything that we can give him to eat so that his mouth will stay shut.  I remember an apple in my handbag.

We sit Milkbaby back on the stool, and I give him some apple.  He chews it, while grinning and waving at the two other shop assistants who've come to watch the spectacle.

He spits the apple out on the floor.  I try to look composed while picking bits of apple off the carpet and making sure Milkbaby stays sitting on the stool.  He points at the apple, wanting more.  I give him some more.

He sits and chews, seemingly offering a few closed-mouth photo opportunities.  But he's not looking at the camera, and the girl points out that his fringe is covering his eyebrows, something which is not allowed.

I do a very mumsy thing and lick my fingers to wet his hair, clumsily attempting to tame his fringe away from his eyebrows.  By now I'm very flustered.  I wonder aloud why it's so important to have your eyebrows showing in a passport photo.  It's like customs officials are playing some sick joke to ensure that everyone, including babies, look hideous in their passports.

The girl gives up and hands the camera to a colleague.  It's the end of her shift.  Her colleague goes and gets a bigger, better camera.  He's pulling out the big guns.

Milkbaby points at the apple.  I give the whole thing to him, figuring things can't get much worse.  I'm considering giving up on the possibility of overseas travel.  Who'd want to travel with a toddler anyway?

All of a sudden, Milkbaby seems to get it.  He gives up on the gap-toothed grinning and gormless staring, and puts on his best Blue Steel pout.

The guy casually snaps a couple shots, then says, "yep, I think we got one".  I breathe a sigh of relief, and leave the shop before they can tell me they need to do them again.  Fingers crossed the mugshot is good enough for the authorities...

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