Way back when I was growing up, kids didn’t need passports until they were 16. I’m not sure exactly what the procedure for taking a child out of the country was, I assume you just scribbled its name on your own passport and nodded assertively when customs asked if it was yours. At some point, someone decided that this made life far too easy for parents and that actually, children did need passports after all. I imagine that person also squeezes toothpaste from the middle, puts toilet roll on the wrong way round and forgets to scrunch down biscuit wrappers so they don’t go soft.
When you decide to get your child a passport, one of the crucial elements is a photo. The rules around passport photos are pretty prescriptive, which is great, because everyone knows how great babies are at following directions.
Normally, my child loves having her photo taken. So naturally, the second we began trying to get a simple face-on head and shoulders shot of her against a plain background, she became hysterical. First she began wailing. Not crying, just going ‘eeuuhhhhh’ at an egregious volume and pitch and contorting her face without producing tears. Clearly, this was not enough of a protest, so she simultaneously relaxed all of her limbs and slithered to the ground like a large, petulant snake. Any attempts to sit her back up were met with increased levels of wailing and flopping, interrupted by furious attempts to speed-crawl across the room and plunge her fingers into an unguarded socket.
After around 7,000 attempts to get the picture and around 7,000 blurred images which would have left CPS wondering exactly how we were torturing our child we decided to come up with a plan B. Having discounted a series or preferable options, including using a picture of a stranger’s baby from the internet and divorcing so we’d never need to go on holiday together again, we hit upon a truly genius solution, used an Iphone to YouTube episodes of Peppa Pig and dangled it in front of her.
Having managed to secure a photo of our daughter beaming, glassy-eyed and positively catatonic with delight, we got the form off so that it can go sit at the bottom of a very large pile of other hard-won baby passport forms.
The unfortunate side effect of our magnificent technique is that the baby has now realised Peppa is not confined at the TV and has taken to seizing smartphones and manically incanting ‘pahpah, pahpah’. Still worth it to end a wresting match akin to trying to dress an angry octopus into a tuxedo.