Thursday, February 5, 2009
Ivan is having his school picture taken today. He's only in preschool, but the same photographers that contract with the elementary school contract with Ivan's as well. So I filled out the form a few days ago, wrote out the check, and delivered it to his teacher, thinking the whole time, "But Ron takes such great pictures. Why am I paying for this?"
My favorite school picture of myself is from fifth grade. I was a student at the G.O. Center in Lynchburg, Virginia--a program for supposedly gifted students (Gifted Opportunity). Here's what I recall from that gifted year: dodge ball, kick ball, Red Rover, kicking my teacher in the leg because he teased me once, my "boyfriend" calling me "gunky" after I broke up with him, a submarine my father helped me make as a project for 10,000 Leagues under the Sea, and a trip to DC, the group photo of which shows me in a pink t-shirt and sorely in need of a training bra I refused to wear.
In the school photo, I'm wearing a light blue turtleneck and a tan vest with flowered trim. As if the outfit weren't bad enough, there's the hair. The best thing I can say about it is that it was clean and not in the least bit gray. Years later--before I had children of my own--I asked my mom about it: "Why did you let me go to school looking like that?" Her answer? "Because you dressed yourself and once your kids start dressing themselves, you don't care what they wear."
"Not I," I thought. "No way will I let my kids leave the house looking like their mother doesn't care about them."
My favorite school photo of my younger brother, Sean, is from when he was in second grade. He's looking at the camera like he's ready to cry. But he wasn't. He said the photographer told him not to smile so he didn't.
My favorite school photo of my younger sister, Sarah, is from when she also was in second grade. Her hair is curly and cut close to her head in a style more closely approaching a mullet than an Annie-The-Sun'll-Come-Out-Tomorrow sort of 'do.
These 3 shots are the reason I love school pictures. They are completely about truth in advertising. Or at least, in the best cases, they should be. When I look at my fifth grade picture, I don't see the girl labelled as gifted. I see the tomboy I really was. When I look at Sean's picture, I don't see a well-behaved little boy, I see the child who had to be told not to smile because he was spazzing all over the place just a moment earlier, driving the photographer nuts. And when I see Sarah's picture, I see not the smiling child everyone else might, but the one who was crying only a few days before when her (supposedly) gifted older sister--who knew better--thought she needed a haircut, so took a pair of kitchen scissors to her long, curly locks.
When I look back at Ivan's preschool picture years from now, I'll see the little boy I managed to put a nice sweater on that morning, but I'll also see the faint red mustache from the two glasses of soda he drank with pizza the night before as he stood on his chair singing the theme song from "Happy Days."
And they are happy days. Very. Yep, thank goodness for school pictures. They're worth every penny.