School pictures came home last week, toted in backpacks jumbled with Boxcar Children books, broken pencils, water bottles, and gym shoes. The kids are proud and excited about the photos; usually, I fake an interest on their behalf.
However, I find I’m turning a corner, when it comes to my attitude about these highly-contrived photos that jam a kid onto a stool in front of a magnification of Stephen Hawking’s brain.
Thus far, I’ve balked at school pix–and not just because, in my high school senior photos, the shoot’s stylist made me lean on a wagon wheel and clasp my hands under my chin coyly. No, my issues go beyond Conestoga trauma. Here’s what rubs me:
Some company comes in, holds my kid hostage for a few minutes, using a photographer that calls every kid “Patty” in an effort to get him/her to smile naturally, and then the whole outfit tries to charge me, the parent, large American dollars to buy back my own uncomfortable-looking children in packaged form so that I then have something to share with the relatives come holiday time. Couldn’t I do this type of thing every year on my own, at the J.C. Penney’s, if it mattered to me? And don’t I, quite willfully, resist doing that, too, because it’s all just so fake and weird and hell if I don’t prefer a candid shot I’ve taken myself for free? And couldn’t I just give the relatives new socks, if they require a holiday thought? Or perhaps a free weekend–or week, or month–with the kids, if they need to see them so damn much?
Clearly, school pictures make me swearish, and I think we all know I’m generally quite refined.
But this year? I’ve been surprised; I’m appreciating adding their photos to the progression of years. I like seeing them grow up through the school’s eyes. Crunk it, but I think I prefer my kids wallet-sized.
Hence, suddenly I am all about embracing the school photos, even though they give me paper cuts when I hug them too tightly.
Plus, the photos prove that my kids exist when I’m not around, and I’ve never been completely certain on that point before.
You know why I don’t blog about this one as much as the other one? Because she shows up, shuts up, and does the job, all with a sprinkling of freckles. Oh, and if you ever need a kickass speller, call 1-800-GIRL.
Certainly, when she’s overtired and has had a big day of Scholastic Book Fair + Parent/Teacher Conferences + Swimming Lessons, the sum of these parts is just as likely to be her lying on the floor of her bedroom, screaming in high dudgeon, a toothbrush dangling out of her mouth, kicking her heels repeatedly in an impressive fit as it is to be her spelling “temperamental” correctly.
But then she recovers and helps her little brother with the snap on his pants.
Note the pebble-creature necklace, which I was given when I turned 12.
I think I wore it in my school picture that year…the necklace, a new bra, a cowl-neck sweater, and a smile manufactured just for the photographer when he called me “Patty.”