"Scootch in closer together." "Come on everyone; let's see a big cheesy grin!" "Now, look over here at this camera."
Sounds like things you'd hear on the red carpet at the Emmys or outside a trendy Hollywood restaurant; photographers all huddled on the street trying to get a celebrity to look their way. But it's formal night, the first day of school or a dance recital - any place where there are kids followed around by parents trying to capture every Kodak moment.
It's the "mama and paparazzi," a club for which, much to the chagrin of my children, I am a card-carrying member.
I love pictures, scrapbooks, and photo albums. I love putting the pictures on the pages, filling the pages with stickers and embellishments, then putting the pages in an album, which I will then display prominently. But, mostly, I love taking pictures of my children; and the more, the better.
I never really had any problems related to my OPD (obsessive photo disorder) until my children reached elementary school age. From that time on, I and my shutterbug ways became an embarrassment to my kids.
"Muuu-thherrr!" became the standard response when I would follow them into their classrooms on the first day of school to get a picture of them seated at their new desk. "I just need one shot, and then I'm done; now look over here and give Mommy a big, happy smile!"
Those first-day-of-school photos from about 5th grade on look a little like my kids are in the throes of a full-blown migraine headache.
But, the way I picture it (no pun – well, maybe a little pun – intended), photographs and photo albums are an integral part of family life. How are you ever going to remember that day Junior's sisters covered him in Disney stickers while you were on the phone for three minutes as he rocked helplessly back-and-forth in his swing, unless you have a picture of it? Better yet, how will you ever be able to embarrass your children in front of their dates, unless you pull out an album filled with pictures of them dressed as dinosaurs or sitting in a tub with spiky hair?
That's why I'm always lurking, following my children with camera in hand, to capture the moments of their lives. Putting on heels for the prom; walking down the hall all dressed and ready for the prom; opening the door for the prom date; capturing the prom date's deer-in-headlights expression as I quickly click off five or 50 frames; the prom date walking through the door rubbing his eyes; the child and the prom date; the child and the prom date walking out the door; and the child and the prom date getting into the car.
"A picture is worth a thousand words." My belief in that old adage is apparent in the over-stuffed albums that cover everything from birth to college move-in day. I even tried to take a picture of my daughter's first traffic court appearance, but apparently there's some silly rule against taking photos in the courtroom. I'm sure my copious documentation will come in very handy some day. If my kids ever want to know if they've ever had an allergic reaction to something or what diseases they've had, they just need to pick up a family album.