Picture Day is a Pain. In. The. Ass. Seriously. A royal and irrefutable pain in the ass.
You know who it’s not a pain in the ass for? No one. It’s a pain in the ass for everyone. Especially the recipients of those adorable 3 x 1 “wallets” of your kid. For the love, please don’t feel obligated to give one to everyone you know. They’ll be stuck with them forever because, while there is nothing anyone can actually do with these microscopic photos, they also can’t throw them away. I have a desk drawer full of adorable smiling little faces that I can’t recognize without a magnifying glass, and yet I still can’t chuck them.
Go ahead and disagree with me. If you think Picture Day is not a pain in the ass, congratulations and good for you. Maybe you are raising child models.
Picture Day anxiety starts with the order forms (that are usually crumpled and barely legible by the time I find them in the bottom of the black hole that is my kid’s backpack). The goddamn forms. I’ve never done a tax return, but I imagine tax returns are easier to complete than a school picture order form. First, you have to choose a background. Each background choice is supposed to look like some extravagant and wildly unbelievable landscape but, when all is said and done, they actually look like the set of an indy soap opera. Like, are people supposed to believe that my kid had his Kindergarten photo shoot at the base of Niagara Falls when it actually looks like he’s an extra on a Tellemundo soap?
Once you decide whether you want your kid’s picture set on the beach under swaying palm trees or in the Oval Office, you have to pick which “pose” you want, and specify the quantity and size of the photo for each. How about this: I’ll take ninety 3 x 5’s of the “pose” that shows my kid’s eyes open and his fingers somewhere other than in his nostril (ok, or down his pants). Shit you not, I’ve gotten pictures back of “Pose #3” that show my son picking his nose. With his eyes closed.
As if all the planning and preparation are not enough, Picture Day comes along and now you have to execute. You have to actually clean and dress your kids and convince them to hold it together for just a few hours until pictures are done. It’s a daily struggle for me to convince my Big One to wear clothes at all and we usually settle on “fast” shorts and a tie-dye t-shirt, even in January. There is so much riding on this that I can hardly handle the pressure. Getting kids dressed for Picture Day sounds so simple. It’s not, and particularly for a mom of two nudists.
I had these dreams and aspirations of my two boys getting adorable photos together, in front of a (desperately fake) apple orchard background, each holding a book and an apple and wearing matching white button-downs and khakis. I was so focused on this I even stayed home the morning of Picture Day so that I could make sure the kids were dressed properly. n.b., not saying my husband is not capable of dressing them, but he’s (in no particular order) Alaskan, color-blind, and pattern-blind if one can be such a thing. He does not have an appreciation for the big deal that is Picture Day, nor does he care to.
I got Little One dressed by bribing him with Eggo waffles and “salsa” (ketchup) (so my kid). He won’t let me brush his hair but I pick my battles. Plus, I mistakenly assumed the teachers or photographer would handle this during the shoot. They did not. His photos look like Billy Ray Cyrus and Joe Dirt had a love child, albeit a smiling, happy one (with dried ketchup on his face and most of his body).
Big one was having none of it. Not the clothes, not the hair, and certainly not the underwear. He would prefer to be naked but settled on going commando as long as he did not have to wear the khakis and white button-down. We fought. He cried. He threatened to not leave the house.
Then I stopped. I stopped and asked him what he wanted to wear (as long as it involved clothing). He said the “shirt like Daddy’s. You know, the one the Hawaii people wear.” I cringed. He was talking about a multicolored Hawaiian shirt – though to his credit it’s a button down – that makes him look like an old creeper in a strip bar. The buttons stop just below his rib cage and the top falls open so that he gets Flash Dance shoulders. BUT.
He loves wearing this shirt. It makes him happy. He feels confident and good about himself. He smiles. Oh, God, does he smile. And his pictures – all eighty-seven of the 5×7’s I caved and ordered – are pretty great. If you can get past the one-dimensional plastic-looking apple orchard in the background.