The photographer from the Guardian came to take our photo. Lula wore her pink princess dress. With wings. Technically making it a fairy dress I guess. She was supposed to take centre stage, with John and I vying with each other to hide behind her wings, well out of sight and hopefully too blurry for the bank manager to recognise us, but as soon as he started papping she became a crying wreck and I became one of those awful stage mummies cajoling with chocolate and promises of treats if she just smiled or said cheese to the nice man. It was especially frustrating because only the other day she was posing in her ballet outfit for me like she was working a Vogue front cover. I actually had to delete a few images because of the decidely coquettish upwards glance she was giving me through her lashes. I know what happens when you take pictures like that into Boots for processing.
The bribes didn’t work. So the photographer took a tea break looking at his watch, whilst I got down on my hands and knees and pleaded in whispers.
‘Lula darling, listen, it will look really, really shit, I mean bad, if the photo of you in the paper made it seem like we were forcing you to do something against your will – like going travelling around the world. And remember you do want to go around the world. Remember the mangoes? And uncle Richer in India?’
‘Sweetheart the man has come to take a picture of you as a fairy princess. And he won’t believe you really are one if you are crying. And you won’t win the competition.’
…Why did I have to make up something about a competition? I think, Please don’t let her focus on that…keep talking keep talking…
‘Ok, how about this – we stop it with the crying and you can have whatever magazine you like including Barbie. I won’t stop you. I’ll even buy you a Barbie.’
‘Lula, if you look miserable in the pictures the neighbours will take the clipping and add it to their folder of child abuse allegations which after hearing you scream for three whole hours because I refused to give in to your demands and buy you a Barbie toothbrush after you refused to open your mouth at the dentist, is a pretty big folder.’
In the end the photo he got was of me holding her in my lap. Lula’s looking down at my hands. You might not notice unless you look closely but she’s bent over my iPod in a trance, watching Mamma Mia (the princess wedding scene as she calls the wedding of the girl who looks like she’s 12 to that pug faced guy who can’t act). I’m looking out the window and am in hysterics. Due in part to Pierce Brosnan’s singing but more to the fact that the front page of the family section will have a picture of me shoving a tv screen the size of my hand into my daughter’s face. No doubt the comments page will be overflowing with protests from outraged parents incensed by our casual approach to parenting and flagrant disregard for our daughter’s happiness (at least they don’t also know about the chocolate bribes).