It is not easy to get a good passport picture of a small child. I knew this in advance because my sister-in-law recently had passport photos taken of her 2 year and 2 month old children, and she told me tales of trying to hold the baby's head up and needing many tries to get the needed shot.
You see, passport photo requirements are very specific, and children are not. In order for the photo to be accepted you have to be looking straight ahead, your face must be a certain size in the picture, the background needs to be a certain color, you can't be wearing hats or sunglasses or anything weird, and you can't be photographed being forcibly held down by a frustrated parent who is holding your head in place. This makes it very difficult to get a good photo containing your children.
I was in "checkin' things off mah list" mode the other day, and so we left the house in the morning ready to do several errands that never got done. In my infinite parental wisdom I decided to do the passport photos first, while the children were still relatively clam and happy. They could scream and yell at the grocery store all they wanted, but they needed to hold still for the photos and preferably not look like angry terrorist kids, so, first thing in the morning, we drove to the UPS store next to my church.
UPS has a very long list of offered services, and passport photos is not on that list, but that didn't mean anything so we walked in anyway. The store was empty except for one group at the counter talking to the one service guy, so we patiently waited our turn. The problem was, the people were trying to mail a snowboard, and they had just brought it in and were trying to figure out how this was going to work. It was obviously a problem, and by the time they started talking about insurance options with no signs that they had found a packaging solution we had been there for over ten minutes, and all of the good behavior that my kids had brought with them was pretty much used up. So we left.
I also forgot to mention that it was raining out, and since I didn't want our passport pictures to be of us dripping wet, I frantically tried to hurry the children through the streets while keeping their hoods on and the umbrellas over them. Unfortunately this made them very angry, and when we reached the FedEx store down the street they were damp and cranky. Perfect.
Ruby was not so bad, throwing only a mild fit when I tried to put her hair back, but of course she is 5. The trick was getting the 2 year old to hold still and look straight ahead. It was no easy task. Edward was happy enough to stand there and look at the camera, but the FedEx store is a fascinating place full of whirring and dinging. Every time the poor employee tried to take the picture, Edward would look away at the last second, rendering the shot useless for passports. Thank goodness for digital photography.
We tried for a long time. I stood behind the guy making funny faces. We snapped our fingers. I held Edward's head in place, letting go only at the last second. Nothing was working. The photographer gave up and told me that it wasn't going to happen, but I refused to give up. Finally, we took one last picture, which didn't even count as a real try because Edward wasn't looking in the right direction. But miraculously, he looked at the camera at the last second and we got a useable photo.
So with the photos done, we just need to send in the applications and our children will be able to come with us to Canada, Germany, or any other place we might want to visit. It took a lot longer than I thought it would, and we never got to the grocery store, but it will be totally worth it for the time it will save us if we ever want to drive to Detroit.