My step-father, MD, is quite the budding photographer. He’s got all the gear: fancy camera, tripod… well that’s all I can name because I am not the budding photographer; all I know is how to flick through pre-set phone camera filters.

Anyway, a couple Sundays ago, we were all heading to mom’s for an afternoon BBQ. My little fam jam and my sister’s little fam jam would be there. So mom decided to carpe the diem: “LET’S DO FAMILY PHOTOS!”

This is what we were going for. I just wanted people to see it and to truly believe that we love each other unconditionally. And that we adore the outdoors and fine linens. And that our farts smell of Davidoff Cool Water and pumpkin spice.

Now, I don’t know if you’ve tried to do professional(ish) photos with a strong-minded two-year old in forty degree (with the humidex) heat, but it sounded like a great time; we were in. We even managed to dress the children in things with checkers and buttons so, not to brag but, we were killin’ it so far.

Our family was up to bat first so we assumed positions in front of mom’s adorable little shed. Now, MD is not one to make a big show for the kids to get them to smile. Nor is he one to give us a countdown. He is just in the photography zone.

So the four of us stood there, J to my right holding the baby who was actually being still, and M in front of me, holding my hands that rested on his shoulders. They were four solid seconds of sweet, semi-candid photographic gold. Surely one of those must be the one–

“Hang on, hang on”, MD called out as he fiddled with the flippymajigger and rotated the twisters.

Hang on? Hang on to that beautiful moment you just shot? Like, in our memories? Because there’s no physical hanging on. That was it. That’s as good as we get. We are good for four seconds.

Before I could even bark out “please hurry!” it started. Lil M decided my hands were suddenly “too sweaty”. Accurate, but for the love of God, man, work with me. I continued to place my hands somewhere on or near his shoulders to convey for the camera that we do, indeed, love each other. But the more I tried the more irritated he got. Understandably. I was a sweaty mess; I didn’t even wanna be near myself.

And, at this point, baby J had gone from gentle writhing and whining to straight-up face pushing daddy.

J and I continued to smile like assholes at MD who continued to fiddle and photographize – nothing of which appeared to be the actual taking of our photos. But we couldn’t tell so we held out hope and continued to aggressively bare our teeth in his direction.

We finally succumbed to the suffocating heat and incessant whines. Just as we entered the house, I thought I heard MD’s voice call out, “alright, ready now”, but I assumed it was just a heat stroke hallucination. I sat in the bathroom for several minutes just so I could be pantless and lean against cold things.

I felt terrible that the children weren’t up for a round two after all MD’s efforts. But we had to escape to cool down / forget this incident ever happened.

And we did indeed forget. Until a few days later when my email inbox pinged. A new message from MD simply entitled, “Pics”.

The body of the email was brief but basically said that, attached, was a “selection” of photos from the shoot.

Wow, I thought. A selection? I didn’t think he even shot during our four seconds of glory. MD, you stealthy bugger. Here’s hoping all the sweat and whispered threats were worth it.

family photo

And worth it it was. The “selection” he referred to were the three photos of my sister and her beautiful family (each photo equally perfect). And this bad boy, right here. This was the one (and only) image captured of my crew of dapper animals that day.

Jokes aside, we could not love it more.

Spoiler alert: this is gonna be our 2018 Christmas card.

Your still sweaty,