That peace-keeping middle child

A few weeks after Thomas was born, I got a package in the mail from Alli, a close friend from college.

I gasped when I opened it, so David came running to see what was inside. When I held them up, David wrinkled his nose in disgust and disappointment.


No, David, not just shirts. Shirts with your names on them, and gingham. Matching shirts, David.

He turned around and walked away, confused as to why shirts that do not have Lightning McQueen on them even exist.

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As soon as Thomas grew into his, I dressed the kids in their new favorite shirts and took them to the park with my camera, a blanket to sit on, and bribes to get them to smile.

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And look! SUCCESS! I thought of everything!

I could just post those pictures but that wouldn’t be fair; they don’t tell the whole story.

Because the one thing I forgot to pack was an attitude adjustment for my darling two-year old.

After a few photos Mary Virginia realized she had been cooperating and, just like any self-respecting two-year old, flipped the switch. She went from smiling to writhing in a moment. Suddenly sitting there for one more minute was unbearable, unspeakable, unfathomable.

And that little girl you see, the one with curly hair, a sweet grin, and her head tilted toward her big brother, threw her body to the ground and started crying.

If you’re going to cry, at least look at the camera while you do it, Mary Virginia.

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A friend was with me, and we both started doing circus tricks to get her to smile.

We sang songs, told jokes, reminded her of the bribe. We put her friend who happened to be wearing a coordinating dress beside her; nothing worked.

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If I know anything about parenting, I know you have to pick your battles. I pick my battles very, very carefully. It looks like this: my kids MUST buckle their carseats. That is not open to discussion. Pretty much everything else is negotiable. Especially at Target.

But the photo battle? COME ON, KIDS! When it comes to photos, I will die on the battlefield clutching my camera with my finger poised over the shutter button. All I’m asking is for you to turn your face in a particular direction. I spend so much time orchestrating FUN, ENTERTAINING activities; just give me 30 seconds then world is yours.

Mary Virginia not only won this battle, she won and then got a cookie that she did not earn.

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But I gave it to her because, you know, ya gotta pick your battles.

And because I hadn’t totally given up. I thought maybe I could get a cute picture of the big kids enjoying their cookies as a consolation photo.

Which is why, as soon as she finished her cookie, Mary Virginia gave me that look she’s been perfecting since the day she was born. That look that says, “This photo shoot is OVER.”

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These personalized, embroidered shirts were made custom-made by Dallas Claire Embroidery.

Cookies by Trader Joe’s. Sass courtesy of the terrible twos.




  1. carie September 6, 2015

    Oh now why does that sound so very familiar!! Bless her! The shirts are completely fabulous though and the smiley pictures are gorgeous!

  2. Katherine A. September 8, 2015

    And the option of a photo shoot the second time they wear them is out of the question, b/c there is no way they all escape unstained from the first wear! Cute photos. Love MV!

  3. Tara September 9, 2015

    I can relate to flipping that switch! It’s amazing isn’t it?!
    You did get some lovely photos before though!

  4. Sarita September 9, 2015

    Could totally relate— we’ve had so many of these0 as I say– bribery is a great parenting tool– use it often and well. and cookies are the best bribery tools!



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