I met Tina, Jim and the little girls down at Captured Moments Photography to get the twins' pictures taken. They are one year old now and walking. They are also beautiful. I think I might have hurt Tina's feeling's once when I said they were losing their "generic baby look" and turning into little individuals. I'm sure parents never think there is anything generic about their offspring but I have a difficult time distinguishing among infants, the vast majority of whom seem to be plump and bald with a look of blandness on their little faces.
At one, Sophia and Sloane are good natured and still plump and rosy, with feather-light golden hair and sparkling eyes and, I think what really makes the difference, they now look at the world as if they are developing their own opinions about it. "Hmmm, this is a new person or new surroundings, let me see what I think about him/her/them."
The first element in the picture-taking project was getting Sophia and Sloane out of their pajamas and into their new outfits, which consisted of tights, long velvet dresses, patent leather shoes and headbands. Jim and Tina have developed a strategy in the last year so that each parent starts out holding a little girl, understanding exactly when to trade off babies for the next phase in the procedure. (It seemed to me that Moms still have the advantage in knowing exactly how to worm a squirmy baby into a pair of tights, probably based on centuries of genetic experience).
An illustration of the individuality I was talking about was the twin's reaction to their dresses which Tina told me was typical of their two personalities. Sophia was extremely pleased. She beamed and patted her skirt. You could almost see her thinking, "I am so lovely in flowing velvet." But Sophia's expression was purely disgusted. "What the heck is this? I hate dresses! Why can't I have my picture taken in my bib overalls?"
The girls are also walking now, which adds another dimension of difficulty to lives of the parents' of twins and this was quite noticeable as Jim and Tina attempted to get Sophia and Sloane to cooperate in the picture-taking mission. Susan had a variety of different backgrounds. The first was a little white wicker table with matching chairs. A tiny tea service and a plastic cake were placed upon the table and the little girls were placed by Mom and Dad upon the chairs. When Susan yelled, "okay!", Jim and Tina moved quickly out of photo range. Almost as soon as Jim and Tina let go, Sophia slipped off her chair and toddled out of the scene while Sloane instantly pitched the tea things to the floor. "Bang," went the tiny teapot. "Thunk," went the plastic cake against the far wall.
Patiently, the adults put everything back again with pretty much the same result. Fortunately, Susan is the mother of twins herself and understands the dynamic of working with pairs, being instant quick on the camera trigger so I (stationed out of the way where I could watch the process play itself out) think she may have got a couple of good pictures.
Next was a big basket of red roses setting on the floor. The first option was to have the girls stand on either side of the basket. One of them cooperated beautifully. There she (Sophia, I think) stood, clasping the handle, smiling angelically, her long red velvet skirt matching the crimson of the roses. But the other sister snatched a bunch of the flowers out of the basket, holding her bouquet directly in front of her face. No amount of cajoling on the part of her parents could make her lower her flowers so her little face showed.
Then there were the two stacks of colorful boxes. They lasted possibly 30 seconds before the floor looked like the scene of a nursery-themed demolition derby. Jim and Tina, panting by now from their exertions, put the stacks back together as Susan raced for the shot.
When they tried putting one of the girls in a chair with the other standing beside her, the twin on the floor, in a surprising show of strength in a one-year-old, simply pushed her sister across the room and out of camera range.
When they tried sitting them on the floor with "Congratulations! You're One Year Old! cards all around them. Sophia promptly knocked her stack down while Sloane decided her selection of cards was edible.
At this point, it was time for another outfit so there was a time out, while Jim and Tina stripped the girls out of their velvet and put them in jumpers with turtlenecks and different colors of tights. As an exhausted-just-from-watching 60-year-old, I think I might have made the same tights do double duty but on the other hand, the twins will only be one once and I expect Tina was willing to go the extra mile to make these pictures perfect.
When the ploy was to get both girls to look up and smile for the camera at the same time, it was almost as if they'd decided between themselves that this was something they simply would not do. Their parents tried everything. They yelled to get their attention, "Sophie, Sloane, look at Daddy!" Sophia would look up and grin but Sloane (or maybe it was the other way around) ignored him like he didn't exist. Tina snapped her fingers; Jim whistled. Susan called out, "here, Kitty, Kitty, Kitty". (I didn't quite understand this particular technique but Susan certainly knows more about what draws the attention of twin toddlers than I do - in this case, however, it wasn't very effective."
What worked best was when Jim played music on his cellphone/Ipod/MP3 player (I'm not sure what it was) but it only worked for about a nanosecond. Jim would set off the device, the song would start, the babies would glance up briefly, Susan would frantically finger the camera button.
In the end, Jim, Tina and Susan looked like they'd just crossed the finish line of the Boston Marathon. Susan appeared to have just hiked across the Sahara Desert. The twins looked as fresh and perky as little daisies. They smiled in satisfaction at having successfully completed another milestone in their film career. Susan had taken 96 shots and hoped to get some that were good.
I can't wait to see the finished product.