I feel like I'm the meat in the sandwich that is my family. I'm not saying here that I'm the standout element in this equation - what I am saying, is that I'm the one who carries the condiments and seasonings - and as 'meat' everyone always expects you...to be there...in the 'sandwich'. Actually, I don't know what I'm trying to say anymore. It's just sometimes I think I lose myself in the midst of other peoples dramas.
Case in point... Sunday morning - I am charged with taking most excellent photos of my niece and nephew for this years Christmas card distribution. No pressure or anything. What do I have to work with? 1 x 3.4 year old male; 1 x 9week old female. In addition 1 x highly strung mother of said children. Farrrrk!
I might also mention, at this point, that I myself am in mid-battle with a summer cold. Patience is well and truly compromised.
So, to begin with - it's the boy. Single shots, then we try for a group shot. Yep, he's sitting.. finally, hold the sheet up Mum - UP UP!... ok smile... say cheese... c'mon - moon cheese!! Nope, he's too interested in checking himself out in the mirrored door....fuck me (internal voice)... ok, stop looking at yourself in the mirror - look at me... AT ME!.. look, what's in the circle - can you see anything?STOP.LOOKING.AT.YOURSELF.IN.THE.MIRROR... Open the freaking door - whoops, boys Mum has just relieved door of it's uppermost hinge, excellent (internal voice) - everyone just calm down... smile, smile, c'mon! Introduce silly prop yep, he likes it - except he's still not looking at me. Change of location; ok, lets go to the lounge chair.. eye contact, light's a little trickier... goddammit, now all he wants is the prop - give him the prop be careful... be careful you're going to break it! Ok, smile.. smile for Santa... smile for me....smile for the person who invented wet wipes - just SMILE AT ME!!! (internal voice). Ok - now the baby. Baby is topped up with S-26's finest vintage - she's always happy after a feed I'm told.
Baby assumes supine position.. in a circle of Christmas lights... Grandma is waving a pink doll in and out of the viewfinder, above my head and back around again - makes focusing a little difficult (internal voice)... hmmm, baby not so open to cuing...Mum, get out of the light.. can you move her.. there.. no there.... fuck (internal voice). Right, baby's Mum get out, take the boy with you - it's too much, I can't handle it... I'll call you back when I need you. Baby's crying - fuck, she scratched her arm on the lights (internal voice) now she's really crying. I pick her up - oh munchkin, I'm sorry, it's ok - bouncy, bouncy - SPEW... chunky, smelly spew at the top of my shoulder where my low cut top meets my skin fuck, we have major seepage here (internal voice). Grandma sorts the baby, I disinfect my upper right torso... away we go again. Baby holds still, some nice natural shots. Ok - bring the boy.
Boy enters, boys mother enters - not with that biscuit you don't - PUT-IT-DOWN (not me)
Boy does not cease or desist - that's it, no photos then - get out, go outside with your father (not me)
Mother escorts boy outside - boy mid tantrum slams door - ahhhh - oh my God! You just smashed my head in the door; he just smashed the door into my head!!! (not me)
Boy's upset - put the biscuit down for a moment, you can have it later - come on! (not me)
Boy continues to clench crumbling biscuit in hand, in defiance - that's it then - no photos (not me)
C'mon - we don't have biscuits in the photos (me)
Boy sits eventually - carefully place baby into boy's hands - single bad shot taken - baby cries. Boy wants prop. Prop not appropriate for baby and boy together. Tears, screaming. THAT'S IT - I've had enough - no more, I'm done, pack up... I cannot handle any more of this (all me... all external voice).
It didn't end there - my nephew got himself stuck into some kind of tantrum continuum - he's up, he's down, he's crying, he's screaming, he's up, he's down... fuck the circle of life Simba - this shit is incredible.
The story ends when my brother-in-law drags my nephew to the car (kicking and screaming - this is not a literary exaggeration) and they go home.
By 11am on a Sunday morning, I was wishing I hadn't woken up. I felt angry with myself, guilty for maybe inciting the violent behaviour - I just felt shit really. As the meat, I fried. And I continue to cook today.
I am learning slowly, that logic is not a weapon or any kind of defence with children. They just don't listen, they don't care if it makes sense - how can you compete with that kind of belief system - you can't!
Worst of all - my nephew is at the golden age, where he can recall the things you said to him, with emotion - at moments designed to deliver the hardest of punches. Today, he recalls me telling him that he wasn't listening... I didn't get a photo because you said I wasn't listening.
So, this is where it starts.