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Does Picture Day Have to Be This Stressful?

school-pictures

A couple weeks ago my kids had picture day at their school. We prepared well, I think. One kid got a haircut, both kids had showers the night before, and my husband was successful in scrubbing the week-old tattoo off my 5-year-old’s arm so it didn’t spend eternity front and center in her class picture. Instructions were given (eat breakfast and brush your teeth before getting dressed) and clothes were laid out. My daughter even willingly put on the dress she had picked out without flaking on me and changing her mind at the last minute.

And yet, all day long at work I fretted over how the pictures would turn out. Please, I thought to myself, somebody make sure there’s no dried-up snot or food crumbs stuck to their clothes or faces. Please, let them not smash their faces into anything, lest they have a busted lip in their school picture like my son did when he was 3. Let them show some semblance of happiness so that when they look back on their school pictures years from now, they (and their parents) are satisfied with what they see. Let the grossly insane amount of money we shell out for school pictures these days be worth it! Amen.

I don’t have an abundance of pictures from my youth and I want to make sure that doesn’t happen with my kids. I used to take many more pictures of them, but I have definitely slacked over the past couple of years. Life just got in the way and taking photos took a back seat. I do have loads of pictures on the computer, but there just aren’t many around the house because I never get around to actually printing them out and putting them in frames. When I do get around to it, the pictures just sit in the frames collecting dust. I could probably follow in my friend Jen’s footsteps and create yearly photo books. I think that’s a nice way to chronicle the events of the year for each child. Of course, I haven’t done it yet since there never seems to be any time. Perhaps I’ll add it to my list of summer projects.

After picture day, the kindergartener told me that her pictures were taken after morning snack time. I don’t think I packed anything particularly messy in her lunch, so that should hopefully mean that her snack won’t be making a cameo appearance in her school picture. My third grader’s pictures were taken after lunch. At least he had the good judgment to remove his sweater before eating and not place it on top of any spilled milk.

As it turns out, we’ve seen the digital pictures, and they came out great. I already know which poses I will order. Of course, in one of the images I like best there seems to be a smudge of blue marker across the bottom half of my daughter’s left hand. Looks like they did a little coloring before picture time, too.

All in all, I guess I need not have worried as much since the pictures came out pretty well, but for me, posed pictures always conjure up the stressful feelings related to wrangling kids into being calm and cooperative. The pictures we have tried to get as a family have led to whining, complaining, silliness and major agita for me. Here you are, just wanting a nice picture of your kids smiling, feigning happiness, and you have to plead with them to just smile and to stop wrestling with each other. Just sit for one more minute, you say. Then when the excruciating session is over, you look through the 125 shots the photographer took and you find exactly three that make the cut. During school pictures you have no control over what is going to happen, what they are going to look like, and whether they are going to smile or not. One year, my son’s kippah was on inside out. It made reading his Hebrew name very interesting. Luckily, they were able to reverse the image and fix the problem.

So, how do school pictures make you feel?


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