Picture Day – A Toddler’s View

Being a kid sucks.

I mean, to an adult, being a kid is awesome: you have zero responsibilities, zero stress; all you have to worry about is whether you want mac and cheese or chicken nuggets for dinner, or how many laps you can run around the couch before you get dizzy and fall over, or how many colored scribbles you can get on the wall before your parents have a hissy fit.

But actually being a kid sucks.

You’re always getting hauled off to places you don’t care about. Trips to the grocery store or to Target. Stops at the bank. A daily sojourn to day care or the babysitter. Then, you’re being forced to do all sorts of things that interest you not a bit. Eating vegetables. Going to bed at a “reasonable” hour. Not coloring on the walls.

But despite these day-to-day inconveniences, I don’t know that, for a kid, there is any indignity worse than picture day.

You wake up, hoping for a day of cartoons and playgrounds, of candy and sunshine, but the parents are up. And they’re a little bit more wound up than usual. Bustling about. Rushing through breakfast. Nipping at each other about time and duties and outfits and responsibilities. Then they’re stuffing you into stiff clothes that — let’s be honest — are a little long in the sleeve or short in the leg: uncomfortable threads that rub and irritate and constrict and ride up.

Next thing you know, you’re crammed into the car seat — but you can’t have any snacks, because you can’t get any gunk on your hands, and you can’t have anything to drink, because you might spill it on yourself. Then they stick you in some photographers outdoor Christmas scene, and sure, there are cool things to touch around you, but your parents are getting mad at you for trying to run around, and you got scolded for unwrapping the shiny presents. There’s nothing really to do except sit around and not have fun. Anathema for a toddler.

There is some weird adult there with a fancy camera, poking and prodding at you and telling you where to stand, how to sit, where to prop your knees, and she keeps telling you to “smile” or say “puppies” and all manner of adults-talking-to-kids-they-don’t-know nonsense.


You can bear it for a few minutes because you’re generally agreeable, and your parents seem really concerned about you doing what this camera wielding adult asks. But you’re only 18 months. There’s only so much you can stand. The ants start creeping in and you have no more patience for holding still. They’re still asking you to smile, but all you can do is bare your teeth like a wild animal and start running away with the sparkly ornament that has fixated you since you arrived to this weird scene. Meanwhile, your parents are jumping around in the background waving their arms like maniacs trying to get you to smile and sit still.

Finally, the parental units give up, and you are crammed back in the car seat and driven home, where you are allowed to put normal clothes on again and have something decent to eat. And what do you have to show for this? A handful of pictures featuring you, which makes not an ounce of sense to you, seeing as the house is already full of pictures of you.  But mom is happy and saying words like “scrapbook worthy” and “photo calendar.” So I guess it wasn’t too bad.