Second Chance

Parents the world over try revamping their whole childrearing system when child number two comes along. Despite the fact that child one’s childrearing was based on outdoing every other relative and friend they knew who was doing everything wrong, when number two comes along and you admit to yourself number one isn’t perfect, your system gets some fine tuning.

This one’s gonna be a good eater, lots of avocados and broccoli, no subsisting on just fish sticks and yogurt. Definitely gonna sleep through the night a lot earlier. Will not demand attention at every lull in excitement. But none of these matter to me as much as the photography.

I mean child one isn’t that bad. He’s cute, sweet, likable. But the pictures have got to improve.

I mean I used to do child photography as a money making thing. And people liked me. Or at least my pictures. But my specialty was more in the sultry stage of youth’s blossoming, not in the newly born hard to boss around subjects. Plus I don’t own indoor lighting and I have two winter babies so no outdoor shots in unfettered fields of overgrown reeds.

As my firstborn got older, well not that much older, he’ll be two next week, the photos have improved. But the newborn photography did not glow. It barely even shined. Put it next to your own snapshots and my history as a real life photographer might not be quite believable. So one of my first big decisions after finding out I was pregnant was that this time the pictures would be better.

And so far they are. The photo I’m enclosing in my thank you cards this time is, at least in my opinion, a far cry from the one I enclosed last time.  But I remember frantically trying to capture those early smiles and failing miserably.

There’s something ethereally endearing about those first toothless grins. They start out as half smiles and then stretch across those chubby cheeks, until they light up the whole face, making you fall in love again with the tiny creature you’ve borne. And I see photos all the time of regular ordinary people capturing them. But I of course, want to capture them in the right setting, with the right light at the right angle streaming through the window. Which means, of course, that it is day time and I am the only one home to evoke smiles. I am also behind the very un-smile-provoking large black object that produces the photos.

I set him up next to the window in his blanket lined bouncer (trying to hide those wretched fisher price colors) and tried setting up the shot. But I couldn’t get a good angle. So I took off the toy bar with the iridescent fake blue water and hanging lizard and monkey to see if that would help. It did. I could see him head on, comfortably sitting and gazing straight ahead, no brightly colored interference.

So after getting just the perfect late afternoon light hitting his face, I tried. He smiled. I clicked. Nothing. And again. Nothing. And again.

I failed. I can try again of course. I can also give in and do it with my phone. Or at night when the light’s imperfect , my husband can help coax smiles, and my two year old is underfoot.

But I haven’t put that toy bar back on yet.  And he’s suddenly a lot happier sitting in his bouncer. He now has an unimpeded view of the real world, instead of being visually bombarded all the time by the blue and green monkeys that made him turn his head at sharp angles to try to see out and led my hypochondriac husband to question whether he had severe torticollas.

So even if my pictures haven’t improved, my parenting already has. I’m not sure what name to give this new skill exactly but I have learnt how to give a newborn a better view of the world while sitting in his/her bouncer. And while that may sound decidedly undramatic it reassures me that my childrearing- improvement-with-number-two plan is not a total bust.

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