Pictures and critters and stuff (oh my)

By Mir
October 31, 2016

When I last left you, we were discussing pictures. Specifically: my son’s inability to pose for them without acting as if being waterboarded.

No matter! We had a few more opportunities to get a good shot of him, and while I wouldn’t say my hopes were high, they were… highER. Because surely it couldn’t get worse. HAHAHAHAHA.

First, we had Senior Night for football/band. At halftime the seniors line up with their parents, names are called, the announcer reads off something the senior has shared about their after-high-school plans (I swear I am not making this up: one of our seniors put down that they were hoping to become a carrot; I thought I misheard, BUT NO), we walk across the field, the senior gets a rose, a picture is taken, and off we go.

This is a fun little ritual to mark the end of the last season of marching band, and of course last year I had Some Big Feels as Chickadee ended her time there, but this year I found myself having Many Many Giant Feels as Monkey fell into line, because this was the LAST LAST time and six years of marching band is just about over. (For her, it was the end of a beloved and truly formative activity that sustained her through the most difficult years of her life. For him, it was the end of something he’d stuck with for years despite a lot of ups and downs, and represented tremendous personal growth that often occurred in spite of himself.) Add in a hefty dose of MAH BAYBEEEEEE and you understand my state of mind, here, perhaps.

And on a purely logistical note, the weather here is nutso right now, so that made everything more complicated.

No, really. Hear me out. Apparently we set several heat records this month—yes, even for Georgia—and on Senior Night, figuring out what to wear became a whole Thing. During the day it was in the upper 80s. But once the sun sets, it cools off. So. What to do? Chickadee showed up in a sweater, then complained she was way too hot, then as soon as the sun set commenced complaining that she was freezing. Otto pretty much wears the same thing no matter the weather, plus he’s not a complainer, so he was all set. Me, I was stumped. Hot during the day, cold later… I finally did my best to split the difference: I wore jeans with a sleeveless blouse and sandals, and I brought a sweater. I was too hot for most of the evening (doing prep in Concessions, of course, and then in the stands once the game started), then chilly once it got dark. Good thing I had a sweater with me! Great planning! Except… Chickadee took my sweater. To wear over her sweater. Because she was cold and I’m a sucker.

Anyway, back to the whole “walk the field and get your picture taken” thing. We all lined up. It was alphabetical order, except Otto is the photographer so we were at the end of the line, allowing him to snap all but the last 2 pics (he handed his camera off to someone else to get those, while he ran back over to where we were waiting to walk with us). Monkey chatted with the bandmate ahead of us in line. We shuffled along the track and then the edge of the field as we were directed. Eventually they started announcing kids and the official walk began and we just moved up a couple of feet at a time, waiting our turn. Chickadee complained of being cold, multiple times, and as she was in a sweater and I had no sleeves, I was about as sympathetic as you might imagine.

Now. Remember how I said I was wearing sandals? Sandals. In late October. VIVA LA GEORGIA. There were maybe only two or three families ahead of us in line when we moved up again and I felt something on my foot.

Know what else we have in Georgia, besides high-80s temps in late October? Fire ants. LOTS OF ‘EM.

Yep. I’d stepped in a fire ant nest moments before walking my kid across the field. Because of course I did.

Not wanting to call attention to myself, I did a little hop to the side and brushed them off as quietly as I could manage. Once I was certain they’d all been removed, I willed myself not to look at my feet again. I wasn’t sure how bad it was but I didn’t want to know. We continued moving up, then we walked Monkey across, he got his rose, we did our picture, and that was that.

The picture was… not my favorite. It’s worth noting that I was the ONLY one of the four of us actually smiling, for reasons I cannot explain. Also worth noting: 7 ant bites, 4 on one foot and 3 on the other, which is actually not too bad, considering.

[Sidebar: If you’ve never had a fire ant bite, lucky you! They’re a fact of life down here, and I do not understand how such tiny little things cause so much pain. Fire ant bites are both painful AND itchy, and they swell into little blisters which you are not supposed to pop, but of course you scratch and they pop and then they hurt more and you scratch more and yeah, my feet are PRETTY SEXY right now.]

So that was Senior Night.

Yesterday, we decided to try doing some senior pictures of Monkey here at home in an effort to keep him relaxed. Plus, y’know, Otto is awesome at that whole picture-taking thing. (It’s almost like he’s a photographer, or something.) So we tromped outside to take advantage of the light and the changing leaves and all that. I even brought Duncan with us, because who could continue looking like an angry ferret while petting a floofy dog? NO ONE, that’s who.

Monkey was talking and laughing right up until Otto picked up the camera. And then… well, you know. “Stop talking to me!” “I can’t look in that direction!” “I can’t see anything without my glasses!” and on and on and on. We made him pose a few different ways and then we changed location and let him kneel down and pet Duncan for a while, and the whole thing probably took under 20 minutes, but the way my child complained about it, you’d’ve thought it was 40 days and nights in the desert. Plus Duncan was super confused, because we went out back into the forest and this was perplexing. When we were done, we had to pick him up and carry him back to the house, because he refused to move.

Those pictures yielded not a single smile. NOT ONE. I give up. We went through them and picked out a few “pretty good” ones, but no smiles. Otto processed the images and five minutes after we showed the final pics to him, Monkey was down on the carpet with the dogs, smiling and laughing, looking every inch himself. I looked at Otto and Otto looked at me, and Otto quietly snapped a few candids, but I don’t think we can really use any of those for his senior pics. “And here’s Monkey in his cap and gown, looking very serious, plus here he is rolling around on the floor like an overgrown puppy. Ivy League material, clearly.”

Later that night, as Otto and I sat on the couch with Duncan, watching TV, Otto grabbed Duncan’s head. “There’s something on him,” he said. “Maybe a bug?” We each turned him this way and that while we tried to determine whether it was a bug or a piece of lint on him, and eventually I pulled off a tick (unattached, thankfully) because GEORGIA, LATE OCTOBER, OF FREAKING COURSE.

In summation: 7 fire ants bites. No senior smiles. Grumpy dog probably covered in ticks. WHAT A MAGICAL TIME OF YEAR!

P.S. While I was dealing with all of that, I wrote a couple of posts for Alpha Mom I forgot to tell you about. First, I answered a reader homeschooling question as best I could, and then—how timely for today—Happy Halloween, here’s our opinions on candy. Each of those posts is worth exactly what you paid for ’em.


  1. Wendy

    I’ll try to keep this long story short – my daughter is highly allergic to ant bites (swells up like Petunia Dursley). When I was talking to her allergist about it and he had her tested for allergy to bee stings, he explained to me that the reason for the bee allergy test was that killer bees and fire ants have virtually the same toxin – so when you get bit by a fire ant, the reaction is very similar to if you had been stung by a killer bee.

    So you can tell people you got stung on your feet seven times by a killer bee if you’d like more sympathy than “I got bit by some ants” tends to elicit.

  2. Jill

    Try fire ant bites, while out in a public location, ON YOUR ASS! Why did they not bite on the way from ankle to butt? Why wait until they could crawl inside my underwear first? I just about ripped it all off. I’m laughing from the Big Bang clip above, but I still cringe when I remember those bites this summer.

  3. Jean

    After years of trying to get smiling pictures of my children, I dropped back to attempting contented pictures of my children, then further down to hoping for pictures of my children where they don’t look like they are angry at the world. I was once one who dabbled in photography and hoped to delve deeper into said hobby. No more. I feel your pain. Now I leave them to create their own memorable pictures on their phones. Bitter? Who, me?

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