Is there anything sweeter than dressing up two little girls in pretty dresses for their first portrait together? Soon we'd have a framed picture for everyone of a beaming Clara holding the cherubic Kate on her lap, or pulling Kate in a little wagon, or both of them lying on their tummies. We'd save a picture for each girl to put on their desks when they go away to college. That was the plan, anyway. Unfortunately, I had to get Clara (and Kate - but she's easy) through taking a bath, brushing her teeth and hair, dressing her, feeding her some food, getting her in the car, driving to the studio, and sneaking past the toys in the waiting room - all while avoiding any reason to throw a temper tantrum. Somewhere along the line I failed.
I've come to realize that parents of toddlers walk a tight line keeping the child happy without caving in and giving her everything she wants. Clara will pass something she wants and ask for it over and over. I try to distract her but then the asking gets louder and more insistent. Finally I just have to say no. There are three possible results:
1. Clara realized she can't have the thing and moves on to play with something she can have. While this has yet to occur in the Bittle household I've heard it's possible.
2. Clara makes groaning noises and covers her face with her hands before falling onto the ground yelling whatever it is she wants over and over.
3. Clara looks at me as if to say, "you'll be sorry," and her toddler sense of retribution begins to plan a tantrum at the most opportune time. This is what happened on picture day.
I'm not sure what set Clara off but here is a visual approximation of picture day:
She refused to sit still. She refused to hold Kate. She refused to do anything we asked to do. I actually found myself wondering if reverse psychology might work: "Clara DO NOT sit here and smile into the camera!" So what did we do when nothing worked? We took a whole bunch of pictures of Kate. Like this one:
Finally Megan asked the photographer what she usually does with unruly toddlers. She suggested we bribe Clara with ice cream. Seriously. So the question became did we want to throw our parenting philosophy out the window to get a good picture of Clara? I'm ashamed to say the answer was, "absolutely." With the prospect of getting ice cream, Clara jumped up, smiled for the camera a couple times, then held her arms out asking, "Where's ice cream?"
A word to the wise: if you are going to bribe your toddler with ice cream, make sure you actually have some ice cream. We did not. Here is a visual approximation of what happened next: