Etched in Time: School Pictures

A couple of weeks ago, there was a flurry of activity at local schools, as thousands, no tens of thousands, of children stood in line to get their school pictures taken. There were options: background color, pose and the like. But, the final outcome is the same: a snapshot that will stay with you for the rest of eternity.

Lets pause now for a horrifying flashback of our own school pictures. At my 30th birthday party, my array of awful, just awful, school pictures were put on display for all to see. They started out cute. Kindergarten- adorable. 1st grade- cute. 2nd grade- an audible gasp as my new short hair cut and new red glasses were thrown up on the screen. Enter the ugly years.

It’s with this backdrop in mind that I explain my theory on school photos. I try, really try, to make sure my kids have the following things going for them come picture day:

a. combed hair

b. a somewhat matching outfit

c. a clean face

d. teeth brushed. (Yes, I know. It’s a picture, but still!)

It became obvious this week when my children returned home with pictures proudly in hand, that although I did go through the above steps on picture day of this year, somehow, something was overlooked: my children’s free will.

My daughter had dressed that day in a beautiful red velvet dress. It was lovely. Her hair was done with a bow. She looked precious. But, then, we got into an argument because it was gym day and she didn’t want to wear a dress. If that argument was any indication of what her teen years will be like, I’m screwed. That night she came home wearing a weird, but kinda cute, purple knit hat thing. I asked her about it. She said she’d gotten it from a friend and loved it so much she wore it in her pictures. Say what?! Sure enough, there’s photographic evidence for all time. She brought the pictures home. There’s the red dress, her smiling face and a purple hat.

I had high hopes for my son’s first ever school pictures. My kindergartener is such a ham, I thought for sure he’d come back with awesome pics. They’re awesome alright, but not in the way I imagined. He’s dressed well. Face is clean. But, he’s got this smirk on his face I can only describe as something you might see Barney Stinson give a lady on “How I Met Your Mother.” It’s a wicked little grin. And that’s that.

Although neither picture is what I expected, I’m not doing retakes. My theory is, this is what my kids were like in third grade and kindergarten. Why fake it? This is who they are. My daughter has an interesting sense of fashion. (Who am I to talk?) My son is a quirky, flirty kid. No fake school picture will change that.

How did your children’s pictures turn out? Any crazy stuff? Black eyes? Looking away? Hey, at least it’s all digital these days. Remember that thing… film?

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