You know those families who take Christmas photos where all children are smiling, looking directly at the camera, and dressed in color-coordinated outfits? We're not one of those families.
In any given picture, one child seems to be out-of-sorts.
At other times, all three children go slightly awry: one inspecting the ceiling with an air of surprise, one eating her hand, and another curling her tongue.
Even the oldest child, the one who has handled herself with notable maturity for the other photos, eventually will succumb to antics.
As if the floor were shifting underneath, she'll also develop an inability to stand upright. She'll extend her arms for balance. At this point, you won't mind. The littlest one is in motion and the middle child is trying to stick multiple fingers into multiple facial orifices.
Scrap this option for the Christmas card.
If you're feeling especially optimistic, you'll take a breather, let the kids burn off some energy, and try later in the evening. This time, the two older children will be compliant because you're letting them hold a strand of Christmas lights.
The youngest will look at you plaintively. Are you really doing this to us again?
And you are. You're really doing this to them again.
But the child is intent on closing herself off from her surroundings, falling into a protective stance that adults only wish that they could do while in stressful public situations. La-la-la-la! I don't see you!
When she opens her eyes, she's shocked that you're still taking pictures.
So she revolts. If you're attuned to the mind of a two-year-old, you can discern the thread of her inner dialogue: I've had it. I'm squishing my face.
Really. I mean it -- I'm really going for it. It's total face-squishing time.
I'm warning you. This is not going to be pretty, Mom.
And she's right.
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