The Kid, The Camera, and Murphy

29 March 2017

I’m not sure if it’s general procrastination, that somehow it doesn’t feel like his senior year, or some avoidance mechanism, but I’ve managed to let a number of things get away from me for Number 4’s Senior year. Graduation is in June and I’d somehow not scheduled his senior pictures until last week. They were scheduled for today at 9 am.

The other three went pretty much on auto-pilot. They picked out their clothes and accessories. And I knew, especially with number 3, that each outfit would be impeccable: clean, wrinkle free, and perfectly put together. Twin 2 required a little assistance but a last minute inspection the night before had everything in place. Number 4 is a different case. He marches to his own drum. So I started texting and talking several days ago about deciding what he wanted to wear–it should be his decision after all, they aren’t MY pictures. I repeatedly offered to wash and iron anything he wanted to take. Made suggestions about band paraphernalia, remembrances from his trip to Europe, Tech items, etc. I admit I forbore to mention the video games, movie posters, and xbox. I did suggest the dog, who I affectionately call Beastly. He’s mostly the Kid’s dog anyway and 20 years from now, it will be a sweet reminder of him. In theory.

Also, as it was on a day when he is not required to report to school until 10:30 and the appointment was at 9 and, as every Mom knows, the fastest way to a teenage boy’s heart, mind, and schedule is FOOD, I offered to buy breakfast before the photo shoot.

Now verbal issuance of these suggestions and offers got me a vague smile, a nod, and ‘Yeah, I’m thinking about that.’ Text messages got no answer, even the ones involving food. In retrospect, I should have known…

Last night, Best Beloved and I went to see a movie. Kong. It was OK. King Kong has never been an interest of mine so it didn’t grab me. I will observe that someday someone will cast Samuel L Jackson as a mentally stable, compassionate, erudite individual and either the film world will end or the man will win an Oscar. But I digress. The Kid was at work. We returned home by 9. He was due off between 10 and midnight (whataburger is a little lax with the schedule). I purposed in my heart to be awake and ready to inspect his planned wardrobe, iron or launder as needed. And then a storm front rolled in, right through my sinuses. Ibuprofen and Benadryl. Out. Cold. Missed the return and my window of opportunity.

I got up by 7 and was ready to go in case he DID want breakfast… no sign of him. 7:30, silence. 7:45, nothing. 8, sigh. We need to leave by 8:20 because there might be traffic and construction between here and Main Street in Frisco. So I clamber up the stairs, open the Kid’s door and release Beastly. I tell the Kid we need to leave in 15-20 minutes. “Oh, OK”

Turn around, head back down stairs and open the back door, allowing Beastly to water the roses. The roses in my backyard are stunning and I’m developing the belief it is because both of our large male dogs water them multiple times a day. It’s cloudy, cool bordering on cold, windy, and the ground is soggy from the week’s storms.

At a little after 8:15, all 6 feet Infinite inches of the Kid come ricocheting down the staircase. He stops, turns and offers me a jaunty salute. I return his grin and then I notice the wad of clothes under his armpit. ‘So, you decided what to wear?’ I said weakly.

“Yep, there’s a few shirts and a couple pairs of pants, and a hat”

‘Hangers. Could we maybe put them on hangers to make them easier for the Photographer to see?’

“Oh, Ok!” And he begins to look around the living room.

‘They’re in the laundry room’ I offer, thinking much about his usual attire has just been explained. Away up the stairs he bounds and returns with hangers in hand (unfortunately for him this proves he does in fact know where the laundry room is, thus enhancing my Mom Arsenal of Facts).

He does want to bring Beastly, so I determine that in order to keep his clothes neat (snort) we’ll take 2 cars. This will also allow him to go directly to school from the shoot. As he’s hanging things, I notice the orange polo and black pants of his Whataburger uniform. Oh surely not. I mean, I get it is a Texas icon but he’s only worked there since October… ‘You work tonight?’ I ask hopefully and get a relieving affirmative response.

He takes his clothes to the car, I follow, collecting shorts from the roadway. ‘I’ve sent you a screen capture of the address. Put it in your GPS, I’ll be along in a minute with Beastly.’

Kennel all the dogs. Move my car into the garage and get the leash. I walk in and undo Beastly’s crate, causing an instantaneous chorus of outraged barks and howls from the other three, sending Beastly into an over excited, anxiety filled, and generally stupid frame of mind. I manage, with a number of stops and sit commands to quiet him so he walks fairly docilely to the car and into the back seat. We head off.

I’m thinking there’s been enough of a delay that by now the Kid should be there, the wardrobe discussed, and they’ll be ready for Beastly when I get there…and the phone rings. It’s the Photographer. There’s no power at his studio. We can reschedule entirely or try to get the outside photos done and see if the power comes on line a little later. I hesitate. I’m certain the wardrobe is deficient BUT I’ve got the Kid vertical and mobile AND Beastly is already in the car. I roll the dice and opt to proceed with outdoor pictures. Honestly a little relieved. In my mind were two possible scenarios, Beastly being adorable and well-mannered and the other where I had to call Best Beloved and tell him how much new camera equipment we’d be buying. Outside was infinitely preferable. I place a call to the Kid to let him know the situation because by my calculations he should be almost there. I suddenly notice that directly in front of me is a very familiar car with a Tech decal. I didn’t ask why. I just accepted that somehow in the space time continuum I’d managed to catch him up. Sometimes, as a mom, to preserve your sanity, you just have to accept, breathe, and move on.

So we travel into town in tandem. He overshoots the turn, which makes me think I was his GPS. Recalculating…

I have the Kid take Beastly and walk him up and down the block to try and get him centered, calmed and malleable–the dog, not the Kid. I carry the wardrobe to the front door of the studio where I’m greeted by the Photographer with a flashlight in hand. He tells me that in 25 years of his business this is only the 3rd time this has ever happened.

We weave our way through the accouterments of his practice and I start hanging things in the dressing room, getting my own first REAL look at what we have. White wrinkly Band shirt (White was on the no-no list, sigh. Yes of course the Kid got the list, once by email, once by text), White German Soccer Jersey unwrinkled by virtue of its material but in need of a washing, Dark Blue button down of almost a flannel material and a plaid button down of the same material both of which look as though they’ve recently been rescued from a prolonged stay under the bed. And his grey Senior Class Hoodie. Wrinkled khakis and dark blue denims. The pants I’m not so worried about as they’ll smooth as they wear. I catch the Photographer’s face as I hang these up. (At least I got them on hangers, I think) I know he’s thinking that he should have just rescheduled because what we’ve got for a functional, usable wardrobe is what the Kid is wearing (long sleeved Tech T-shirt and khaki walking shorts) the jeans, and the grey hoodie. Maybe the soccer jersey.

(Let me just interject something here. I’m very firmly of the belief that we are not raising boys, we are raising men. Boys need taking care of. Men take care. As a result, there are things I flatly refuse to do. Or there are times when I will start the ball rolling with something but require they step up and finish it out. The Kid will be 18 this weekend and headed to college next year. As with his brothers, it is our job to be sure he can function without a care taker. Now frequently this works fairly well but the problems arise when there is a failure to take responsibility and my refusal to pick up the slack results in an inconvenience for someone else. Apologies, Mr Photographer )

Out we go to the back yard. Have I mentioned we’ve had a rainy week? Yeah. Mud. Damp stones and logs. Lovely. Ah well, as long as the Kid’s backside doesn’t need to be in any pictures, we’ll be OK. He may have soggy undies all day but the Pictures Will Get Done.

The Kid returned with Beastly.

‘What kind of dog is he?’

“Lab mix” the Kid responds (stop there I think at him), “with Pitbull”.

‘I thought he looked like a pit in the head’ (Oh please don’t have breed issues)

The Photographer had them sit on a stone. At which moment I realized there was a large grease spot on the Kid’s shorts. Beastly helpfully placed his large mud covered paw directly on it.

‘We can photoshop that out’

Sure, and it’s just a flesh wound. Talking about how Beastly is the Kid’s dog, which the Kid seems vague about. And Beastly has decided that in an unknown environment, he needs Mommy. Every time I moved in any way he shifted out of his sit and headed for me. We moved them to the bed of an old truck. Beastly was helpful and photogenic as only an 80 pound insane beast can be. In other words, I think we got 3 pictures, one maybe usable. I took control of his leash, at which point he alternated between forcing his way between my knees and trying to pull my arm out of it’s socket as he suddenly realized he did in fact want to be next to the Kid.

Sent the Kid inside to change into the hoodie. Photographer and I are chatting about our dogs and I’m trying to pull up pictures on my phone. Beastly feels this is unnecessary as he’s Right There To Be Adored. So he decides to pat me on the shoulder to remind me he’s there. Yeah, I’m standing. He rears up on his hind legs, paw to the shoulder and then it gets caught in the boat neck of my sweater. Thankfully, I had a camisole on for warmth or the Photographer would have gotten quite an eyeful. Readjust the sweater to discover I now have a 6 inch mud track right down the middle. The Kid emerges at this point and I decide I’ll take Beastly home and be back directly.

Run home, offload Beastly into his crate, change shirts, and run up the stairs to the Kid’s room. In the middle of his room is his hamper, which is overflowing. Beside it is another pile of clothing of equal height. I fear greatly for his future wife. But I find his black Hornline t-shirt, his charcoal suit with accompanying oxford button down, a leather bomber jacket, and a plaid button down of minimal wrinkling. As I climb into the car with my treasures, I realize I’ve forgotten shoes. “We can photoshop those out” I think to myself, “His feet are too big anyway.”

Phone rings, it’s the Photographer. “He’s in his soccer uniform and we’re going to over to the fields at the soccer stadium to take some photos.” Thus triggering the second great mental debate of the day: What ‘uniform’? It’s a jersey from the German National Team. Should I mention the jersey is a souvenir and the Kid has never played? And if he did it was when he was 5 and for the YMCA league not Bundesliga. Or just roll with it? Ugh. Well, the Kid didn’t mention it apparently so maybe silence is golden. As was the sun in a bright blue sky.  We meet up and as we’re walking onto the field, Photographer mentions he forgot to bring the soccer ball. Kid, who is walking in front of us, speeds up slightly. “Please don’t ask what position he played,” I think fervently.

We get some good pictures there and Photographer borrows my phone to call his studio to see if the power is back on. It isn’t. He is pleased with the clothes I brought and sees some potential.  We’ll hold the suit until Friday when we can shoot indoors.  The Photographer knows of a great place on some property a couple of his clients own and we could get really great shots done. Apparently the owners are 3 sisters. Two are fine with him using the property for photo shoots, the third doesn’t want the liability issues. ‘But in 4 years of going out there, she’s only turned me away once or twice’

I just looked at him. Given we were in the middle of only his third power outage in 25 years and had already played in the mud with Beastly, I wasn’t liking our odds. But the disagreeable sister was getting her broomstick refurbished or something, at any rate she wasn’t home.

The Photographer turned off the main drive and onto some mud tracks in the grass and the Kid followed. And I had flashbacks to the first week the Kid had his permit and he drove us to the Renaissance Festival. The weather that week had been similar to this week and the kid ended up with the car sunk to mid wheel in mud.  This mud seemed sturdier.

It took the Kid forever to change into his button down shirt. Apparently he misbuttoned it twice and kept having to start over. He was faster into the Hornline shirt, jeans and leather jacket.

For one of those pictures, the Photographer had me holding back a springy branch. If I let go, it would have whapped the Kid soundly upside the head. And I won’t say I wasn’t tempted.

But as I stood there in the sunshine, surrounded by green (and remembered the first time 3 & 4 ever saw Ohio ‘It’s so GREEN’), watching the Kid’s awkward smirk morph into smile of a confident young man, I decided I’d hold the branch for him. Because sometimes Moms do that.

He’s still on his own getting the corsage and tux for prom though…

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