When I was a kid, it was just my mom and me. My sister is 11 years my senior and moved away for school so, for the most part, I was an only child at home.
The first day of school, class parties, holiday celebrations — I have to deal with that, times four. My mom had it easy with just one kid.
Recently that fact crossed my mind, yet again.
All four of my kids had their school pictures taken last week. It’s a good thing it happened over two days instead of one because I might have gone insane. Getting kids out the door in the morning with clothes on their back, shoes on their feet, food in their bellies and sunscreen (haphazardly) applied to their skin isn’t always easy. Doing all of that and making sure they’re “picture ready” is nearly impossible.
Here are a few questions that crossed my mind as I was wrestling my youngest into a dress and chasing my son with hair gel….
1. Why do they send the kids to recess before their pictures are taken? After my kids play in the heat they are wilted and at least one of them always has dirt on their face. Two years ago, my oldest daughter came home and explained that she had to take her pictures in her tank top because she had to take off her cute, ironed (!) blouse. “It got a chocolate “W” on it during morning recess,” she said. I didn’t even ask.
2. Why is there always that one photo assistant who wields a black comb like it’s a weapon? Don’t they know how long it took me to get my daughter’s bangs to lay flat? Why do I get her pictures back and her bangs are combed to the side like a lopsided antennae?
3. At home my kids randomly pose with their chins resting on their fists, said no mom ever. Why do they do this in school pictures?
4. 1988 called, it wants its backdrop back (this isn’t a question, but it is a fact).
5. What do you mean I have to order package Z to get an extra 8×10? Why can’t I just order an 8×10? That’s. All. I. Want. (repeatedly bangs head on desk).
6. What the heck am I going to do with 74 wallet-size pictures?!
Growing up, my mom had an 8×10 frame on a buffet table in our dining room. In it were all of my school pictures. Each year, when I brought my new picture home from school, we’d take the back off the frame and look through all of them before adding the newest one to the front. By the time I moved out, it was so full it was hard to put the frame back together.
It’s important to me that we have a visual record of their childhood, and school pictures are more formal than anything I can capture on my own. Otherwise, I wouldn’t bother with the photos and all the stress they can cause.
And formal or not, a big part of me wishes my daughter had left that chocolate “W”-covered shirt on for her second-grade picture. That would be a great story for her kids.