WASHINGTON, DC—Citing a desire to more closely monitor the growth of U.S. nieces and nephews, the National Coalition of Aunts denounced the severe under-photographing of the nation's precious toddlers Tuesday.
"These little treasures grow up so fast," said Linda Mirrin, chairwoman of the NCA and aunt to three adorable boys. "We aunts have a simple and reasonable request: Take more photos and send them to us, so that we can see how big those little darlings are getting."
Mirrin then dug into her wallet and pulled out photographs of her nephews to show to the assembled crowd of reporters and fellow aunts.
"This is Troy, this one is Michael, and this is David," said Mirrin, who lives three states away from her sister, Maggie Genz. "Aren't they just perfect?"
According to Mirrin, NCA statistics show that the number of photographs taken of a child declines by 42 percent when the child reaches his or her sixth month. The photograph-rate declines another 26 percent at the end of the first year, and another 20 percent each subsequent year until the child starts kindergarten.
"True, I have some pictures," Mirrin said. "But they were taken a year ago, and from what Maggie tells me, David's hair is shorter now, and the little tyke's been growing like a weed. Sadly, I can neither confirm nor deny these statements because I have no photographic evidence. Maggie says she'll send the boys' new school pictures, but would it be so hard for her to take some photos this summer?"
"If you need some film or batteries, I would be happy to mail you some," Mirrin added.
An additional NCA goal, Mirrin said, is to increase the number of photographs taken in the weeks immediately following a toddler's first steps.
"We want that number up by at least 50 percent," Mirrin said. "It's true that toddlers are mischievous. It's also true that aunts would like pictures of the little rascals engaged in mischief. I hear Maggie's stories over the phone, but I would love to see pictures of David dumping dog food on the kitchen floor, or Troy drawing on the wall with crayons."
NCA research indicates an inverse relationship between a family's size and the rate at which its toddlers are photographed.
"We are doing everything we can to fight this trend, but we need cooperation between parents and the extended family," Mirrin said. "When more snapshots are taken, everyone wins."
Mirrin said the NCA was troubled to discover that disposable-camera purchases generally accompany only major events like a trip to Canada, or a child's first haircut.
"Is it so hard to buy a $5 camera and take some pictures of the kids watching TV?" Mirrin asked. "Michael looks so adorable in his pajamas."
"Maggie knows how much I love those little critters," she added.
In an effort to encourage the photographing of everyday life, the NCA is lobbying Congress to provide tax breaks totaling up to $200 for parents who purchase digital cameras, scanners, and high-resolution inkjet printers.
"We're all connected to the Internet these days," Mirrin said. "With e-mail, parents have no excuse for failing to take and send pictures of their little ones."
The NCA hopes early intervention will prevent future photographic oversights.
"It's time to take a stand, before we aunts are denied photos of our nieces' and nephews' pre-teen and teen years," Mirrin said. "We implore all parents to redouble their efforts, because the sad fact remains that 80 percent of family photos taken never make it beyond the nuclear family's photo album."
The League of American Parents responded to the NCA's claims with a strongly worded message.
"We are sympathetic to the nation's aunts," said George Jarvis, spokesman for the LAP. "No one should be deprived of adorable pictures of toddlers dressing the dog in a funny Halloween costume, or simply falling asleep on the living-room floor. However, our official statement on this matter is and always has been: Get your own damn kids. Then see how much you feel like driving to Walgreens and the post office with three screaming kids in the back seat."