Benny and his friend Griffin at Ocean Beach in San Francisco.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Benny's First Portrait Sitting

Well, I have survived what must be one of motherhood’s most harrowing experiences: the first portrait sitting.

I wasn’t looking forward to it. I know many mothers were sticking garters on their girls’ heads and baseball caps on their boys at 2 weeks and carting them out to the nearest Sears Portrait Studio.

Then they trot out these faintly strange pictures of newborns in odd poses (“Gee, that picture of Katylynn sitting on a princess throne would be really cute if she could sit, or hold her head up, or even keep her eyes open.”) One common pose is to lay the giant head on some sort of podium, with the poor little tadpole body dangling off to the side like an afterthought.

But now Ben is 4 months and it’s time to get with the program. I’d been warned by B. against JC Penney, so we went to Sears. The whole experience was nerve-wracking. I’m led into the “studio” (which looks like somebody’s dusty basement with photographic equipment lurking darkly in one corner). My guide is Tammy, she with the perky, faintly psycho voice that women who work with kids sometimes develop.

She coos over Benjamin, who is, admittedly, a handsome chap. But she keeps calling me “Mom,” which is a small thing, but grating. I tell her my name is Christine, but she still doesn’t stop. I don’t thinks she’s even aware she does it anymore. It’s an unconcious thing, a verbal tic. I think it’s disrespectful.

Babbling at a pitch that only dogs could appreciate, she promptly buried Ben in a pile of props. Throw in some crazy backgrounds and you could barely see the baby. After 30 minutes of her maniacal behavior (which included freaky hand puppets, various stilted poses and three costume changes), Ben finally started crying. I was ready to bawl after 5 minutes.


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