Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words...but seeing as I am somewhat of a word junkie, I tend to feel the need to add commentary. Since I spent last night at the Rave movie theater watching the Foo Fighters documentary (and live concert) with my friend, Beve...(who I hope will forgive me for dragging her to something so incredibly out of her element.) As such, for the past several days, I have been a little out of the writing loop. So, tonight...I'm just going to show you my favorite photo of all time to see if I can get myself back into the groove.
Okay here is the BEST.PHOTO.EVER...a photo of my daughter, Jill, at age 2.
Are you ready for this?
I'm fairly sure that you are laughing. At least smiling. Oh, you want the backstory?
Well, to start...you need to know that Jill was an independent thinker at birth. I wasn't really clued in to the fact that she was a handful because she was my first child and I honestly didn't have any point of reference. Other people described her as "busy" or "wide open" or my personal favorite "a pistol."
Early on in life Jill was pretty fired up about the colors pink and red and preferred to wear them together whenever possible. I find it interesting that she has ended up as a Phi Mu (color: pink) at University of Alabama (color: crimson) as a college student...but I'm not surprised.
Valentines' Day was the one day each year that she was free to combine her two favorite colors...but since there were usually tons of moms taking pictures...I tried to get her into something that I wouldn't be whispered about when she was seen because a lot of those mothers went (in my humble opinion) overboard by smocking precious little dresses and tracking down perfectly coordinating hairbows to match.
Okay, okay, I'll admit it...I had bow envy. (I figured it out later and promptly got over it.)
She also liked anything with a little bling to it...and was not terribly impressed with matchy-matchy or - quite frankly - anything that I thought she needed to wear on any given day. If left to her own devices, she would have worn a red tee shirt, the tutu from the previous year's dance recital (white with hot pink trim and sequins) and a pair of cowboy boots. She thought that compromising meant that she'd take off the tiara that went with the recital costume.
Yep, that was my girl.
The particular morning of the photographic masterpiece that you just viewed, I dressed her, put her hair up in cute little pigtails and put two color coordinating bows in her hair. What I also did was let her know that it was Picture Day at daycare. I thought, "Hey, if I prepare her...I will get a cute little photo of my baby girl in a few weeks and I won't even have to stand in line at Gayfers for hours to get the good photographer who could actually distract Jill enough to get over herself." No small feat, I might add.
Easy? Yeah, right.
I should have known when she said...and I quote..."I not have my 'pitch her' made today."
I said, "Of course, you do, sweetheart. You want to make Mommy a pretty picture so that I can put it in my office at work so that everyone can see what a cute little girl Mommy has. Won't that be great?"
She looked at me skeptically and repeated, "I not have my 'pitch her' made today, Mommy."
I took her in, and got her settled and pretty much forgot about it. I went to work...dealt with whatever I had on my plate at the time...and thought no more about Picture Day. Later that afternoon, I must picked her up, probably inquired whether or not she had bitten anyone or stolen anyone's crayons...and was either relieved or mortified...can't remember which. Every day was an adventure, you know.
Several weeks later...the pictures came in.
I'd probably had a pretty rushed day...trying to get to Brian and then to Jill because they were - of course - at two different places and Big Dave worked out of town. I ran in to pick her up and was met at the door by one of the sweet girls who helped out in the afternoon. I think her name was Susie.
"Mrs. Mixon, we are so sorry..." was what rushed out of her mouth as I came through the door.
I asked if Jill was okay and was told that she was absolutely okay and had actually had a very good day. I then ventured to ask what was possibly so upsetting that it required an apology. Did they let her cut her hair off, leave her on the potty, or put a worm on her paper apple or something?
I mean...really...I was pretty much ready to cut to the chase.
"It's the...um...pictures." Susie said.
"Pictures?" I asked. Remember...I was a mother of two who was working full time and was still hormonal as all get out from having just had Brian a few months before. "Pictures of what?"
"That's what I am trying to tell you..." she said.
Susie then got up and walked over to a table and picked up a packet of pictures. She started going into a long explanation about Picture Day and kept apologizing and hoping I wouldn't be "mad." What did she think I was going to do? Tear up the place? Wait...maybe she was thinking that the tree (me) might be worse than the apple (Jill)...
Apparently, Jill had decided that she was totally not kidding about the whole picture taking thing. They put her on the little bench and were trying (obviously unsuccessfully) to get her to smile. So, when she wouldn't, they just picked her up and ran another class through and put her back up there again.
Same thing. Actually, this went on for an hour or so as she was put up there and told to smile and was about as cooperative as pantyhose in July in the Deep South. They eventually exhausted all of the classes and then put her up there one last time.
What you see above is the end result of all that drama.
By this point, I just wanted to see the pictures. As I pulled them from the sleeve, Susie was saying, "You don't have to buy them. I just don't want you to be mad with us because we really tried."
Of course, I didn't hear anything after that because I was laughing so loud that it was truly unbecoming. I mean...big snorts and hooting and all kinds of unladylikeness. Like I cared. I was just glad I'd gone to the bathroom before I left the bank. It was a Depends-worthy moment, you know.
Needless to say, "Portrait of a Two-Year Old" hangs proudly in our home. One of the copies spent its first three years in her Daddy's office as a 5 x 7 sitting on his desk...front and center. Conversation piece? Ya think? Jill says that the mismatched bows and the fact that the word "FRUIT" is shown on the shirt indicate that I have absolutely no taste whatsoever. Even at age two...she knew that it was just...wrong.
I'm afraid I have to concur...about all of it.
I've thought about mailing a copy of the photo to Dr. James Dobson for whatever edition of "The Strong Willed Child" that he is now selling. I think of this book sometimes...as it was the book that our pediatrician suggested that we find immediately and read before we drew another breath at her two year old checkup. To make sure that we didn't forget or that he was serious about it... he underlined the title. Twice.
Yes...yes, he did.
I've also thought about mailing a copy to http://www.awkwardfamilyphotos.com/ as I am fairly certain that it qualifies.
I can also tell you that this picture was the one that Jill chose for as her baby picture for her senior picture to "morph" from on her senior video in high school. When this picture came up...they laughed. When they saw this photo morph into her senior picture and figured out who it was...they hooted. Here is the senior picture...
We have also shown the first photo to every friend of Jill's who has walked into this house as well as every boy that she has even thought about dating. We are a total disclosure kind of household. We figure that if he can deal with THIS...then he won't be so shocked later when he sees the grown-up version that comes out if we fail to let her sleep enough or feed her on schedule.
Ever see the movie "Gremlins"?
This is sweet little Gizmo. Cute, yes? Remember the rules? Don't feed them after midnight or get them wet? If you followed the rules you got this. If not...you got this...
Yeah, that pretty much sums up life with Jill at age 2.
Now we have this lovely reminder of our girl who was once described (by a school administrator) as "Quite a leader if we can just channel all of that hardheadedness into something positive!" This was stated to us when she was in the first grade and had decided that she was going to finish a project in the library that she was unable to complete because they ran out of time. She just looped back to finish and was sitting there when her class got all the way back down the hall and the teacher realized that she was missing.
Wish I were kidding.
But as interesting as those early years with our girl were...now she is an amazing young woman with a mind of her own...but with the good sense to listen to people that she trusts. An awesome combination.
Oh, and here's a recent photo of Jill.
Amazing, isn't she? We think so.
Sometimes I like to look at her little girl pictures. She was cute, but it was hard to focus on that when we were trying to make sure that she wasn't tearing up something or dumping fingernail polish on the carpet while trying to paint her nails without adult assistance. (True story.)
Somehow through all of that..she grew into the wonderful Jill that she is now. The only real stress she gives us now involves getting tickets (primarily in speed traps when she doesn't realize that the speed limit changed here in Montgomery because she doesn't live here anymore) and not knowing exactly what it is she wants to do when she graduates next May.
But she'll work it out. I have faith in her. That strong-willed little girl is still in there somewhere. Trust me.