Mom-of-Otto completely astounded her doctors by recovering from the initial situation (multiple organ failure, we don’t know what’s wrong, she’s on a ventilator) to where she is now off the ventilator (though still in multiple organ failure and they don’t know why) and harassing the nurses for ginger ale. So that is GREAT NEWS and Otto is back home. Whereupon we commenced irritating each other.
I rave about Otto so often, here, that I occasionally have people making comments about how “You have a perfect husband” or “You think you’re so great because your husband is superhuman” or things like that. I would like to set the record straight: Otto isn’t perfect. And I think I’m a giant spazz, actually, but if I DID think I was so great, it would be because I’m a bargain shopping ninja or because my shoes are really very pretty or because I cooked something delicious without burning the house down. (Yes. Set the bar low. Then lower it; that’s where you’ll find me.) Otto is a regular human—one of my very favorite ones, don’t get me wrong—and just as fallible (annoying) as anyone else.
Otto and I have a really interesting situation, here, when you think about it. Despite having known each other for 18 years before we got married, we each had a loooong time in which to become set in various ways and foibles. I’d been on my own with the kids for years, and I still struggle with allowing his involvement in their day-to-day stuff, sometimes, because I’m just used to the “I have to do it all myself” mindset. Otto, on the other hand, lived alone for a really long time, and occasionally the noise level ’round here causes his face to turn interesting colors. We’ve both had a lot of adjustments to make, and our marriage has not been without its growing pains.
Add to that the fact that this summer was already really stressful BEFORE we got the phone call that essentially said “This is the end,” and then Otto’s having to rush back up north to be with his family, and, well, I think it’s only natural that we’re both a little on edge. (YA THINK?)
So. Here’s what happened: Yesterday we did the First Day Of School pictures out on the front steps. Otto—being an actual photographer—did his thing, and I—being a giant spazz—grabbed another camera and snapped a few pictures of the kids’ shoes and tried to make them smile for Otto’s pictures. Yesterday evening, Otto called us to look at a slideshow of the pictures he’d taken that morning.
And it only included two pictures of the kids on the steps.
Now, if you’ve spent any time with a photographer, you know that they are genetically incapable of taking “just a few” pictures. I knew that Otto had taken AT LEAST twenty pictures, and probably more like forty. “Where’s the rest of them?” I asked.
“These are the good ones,” he said.
“But… but…” I waved my hand at the pictures on the screen, where Chickadee looked a little funny in one and Monkey looked a little funny in the other, “you didn’t get a SINGLE ONE where they were both smiling? Really? Can I see the other ones?”
Otto went back into the folder and showed me the other photos, and I started pointing out things like “Oh, Chickadee looks great in that one!” or “Monkey’s got a nice smile there,” and the kids were chiming in, too, and then the last few weeks of stress took one look at what I was saying and I suddenly morphed into the straw that broke the camel’s back.
“These children don’t know how to smile for pictures!” Otto snapped his computer shut and waved us all away. “We’re done!” he said, shooing the kids away, and then he turned back to me and launched into a diatribe about how I don’t trust his judgment and he’s tired of me second-guessing him and THOSE ARE THE BEST PICTURES and how come I don’t trust him and such.
(Note to Otto: I love you! Ignore this next line!) In short, Otto had a hissy fit.
Now, I’m not saying I wasn’t being annoying, because I’m sure I WAS being annoying, but in my defense I just thought I was looking at all the pictures and commenting on them. In Otto’s defense, he’s exhausted and stressed out and it is really hard to get two children to smile and look lovely at the same time.
Back when I had to do everything myself, and my totally sucky picture-taking skills were the only game in town, I would simply take a batch of pictures like that and find the best one of Monkey and the best one of Chickadee. And then I would decide which picture was OVERALL the best, and then I would lop off the (better) head of the lesser child from the second photo and Photoshop it onto his or her body in the chosen picture. Voila! Awesome picture of BOTH kids!
The fact that I just admitted this to the world causes my husband to die a little on the inside. Really, if I could’ve bottled the look on his face the first time I told him that… well, I’m sure there would’ve been a great market for it. I’m really quite good with Photoshop; the resultant pictures look fine, they just HURT HIS SOUL. Because photography is about what’s real, or something. I don’t know. Ethics, shmethics.
I guess this might be why I’m not allowed to have an opinion on photographs, in his mind. And I’m willing to grant him that YES, he gets to be the Visual King in the house and all things having to do with pictures get to be his domain. All I’m gonna ask in return is that I continue to rule all matters having to do with MAKING WITH THE WORDS, which means that—while my rights to critique pictures have been revoked—all hissy fits and impassioned explanations of WORDY FEELINGS be left to ME or my apprentice (Chickadee).
I think that’s fair.
P.S. I was full of NOTHING BUT COMPLIMENTS for the following brilliant photo: Chickadee’s teacher had put stacks of school supplies on every desk, and Chickie’s best buddies Nightingale and Hawk were sitting there waiting for her. “Chickie! Come sit with us!” they called, patting the desk next to Nightingale and across from Hawk. Chickadee’s face broke into a huge grin, and because I am a HUGE DORK I darted in front of her and sat down at the indicated desk. “Okay, I’ll sit here!” I said to the taken-aback pair waiting for Chickie. “Oh! Crayons! I LOVE CRAYONS!” I continued, picking a box of crayons off the top of the stack and hugging them. In the picture Otto got, I am hugging the crayon box, Chickadee is standing next to me rolling her eyes and telling me to get out of her seat, Nightingale is smacking her forehead in exasperation at my antics, and Hawk just looks sort of scared. PRICELESS.