Before Ming was eighteen months old, I had over three huge albums with photos. I couldn’t bear to get rid of any of these pictures of Ming, even the ones in which I’d accidentally missed his head completely and all that could be seen was a torso, a nappy falling off and stubby, grubby little legs.
Those faulty photos, in which Ming’s eyes glowed bright red, became his favourites. “Ming dwagon – Mummy look!” he’d exclaim, delighted.
I’d show my albums to anyone who seemed remotely interested, but it wasn’t until my mother got a fit of the giggles that I realized I was overdoing it – just a bit.
“Julie, all of the photos for fourteen pages are exactly the same – just Ming sitting in the baby bath,” she laughed.
“No they’re not, Mother,” I said, indignantly. “Look closely – in this one he has that coy expression; in this one he’s twitching his nose; in this one he’s scrunching his eyes; and in this one he has bubbles all over his cheeks. And see, here, over the page, the light is slightly different, so his eyes look bigger and….”
By this time my mother was hysterical with laughter. “But it looks like pages and pages of quadruplets,” she spluttered.
It was months before I took another photo!
Eventually I got my ‘photographer’s’ confidence back, but by this time Ming had, unfortunately, developed whiskers. Not real whiskers, of course, but black texta does have a certain texture about it, especially if applied thickly and often.
It was the Pokemon creature, Raticate, who provided the inspiration. Raticate, being rat-like, had whiskers that Ming just had to have. His first attempt wasn’t so successful; he ended up covering most of his face from the nose down with black lines and then got a terrible fright when I showed him a mirror.
After that, it was my job to draw the whiskers onto Ming’s face. Ming became more and more particular about each hair-like stroke of the texta. One application would last around three days because he violently resisted having his face washed. “MING’S RATICATE WHISKAS! MING’S RATICATE WHISKAS!” he’d yell repeatedly, frantically avoiding the sponge.
The trouble with all of this was that I wanted to take the next series of Ming-photos and the whiskers didn’t fit my vision of cute. Neither did the fierce scowl that accompanied the whiskers, for a truly authentic Raticate look.
But, like many things, I got used to the whiskers, so much so that after awhile they just seemed a natural part of Ming’s face. I started taking photos again. So I now have two albums of identical photos of a severe looking two-year-old boy with what looks decidedly like a moustache! The phase only lasted a few months. Gyarados succeeded Raticate and, although Gyarados didn’t have whiskers, he did do a pretty effective water attack. “SPRISE ATTACK!” Ming would yell.
Give me whiskers any day.
I miss Pokemon!