KAREN M. WICKER: Picture Day Brings Back Memories
Since I don't have a child in public schools anymore, I had forgotten about some of the annual events that happen during the school year. Having coworkers who still have school-age children, I am quickly reminded of this bittersweet journey.
The other morning one of my younger coworkers wearily walked into my office in exhaustion and announced "it's picture day!" I nodded in recognition of what she had been through. She recounted her morning events with three middle school girls going through about five different outfits and several hair changes before they even began to think about any of them being appropriate.
These are those moments where it is so critical for children to feel good about themselves and have a positive experience.
For parents, it is the reality we are responsible for helping them to feel that way and finding joy in their success. Then picture day passes, the pictures come back, fees are paid, pictures are shared with relatives, and the leftovers are tucked away in a box.
I have one of those boxes. There are pictures that show a timeline of how my children changed throughout the years. Some pictures were really good and showed their inner personality, and others I could tell were probably taken after gym. (For those of you who don't have girls, and especially ones with naturally curly hair, the gym issue can be disastrous in the school picture world.)
For most boys, picture day doesn't seem to be as big a deal. I can remember several times I didn't know it was picture day until my son came home announcing he had had his picture taken. As I would look closer at his attire for the day, I had to stifle my thoughts of "you didn't wear that" and instead said "oh, that's great, I know you took a good one."
The backgrounds used for school pictures have changed over the years. They seem to be more creative, which makes me wonder if this is to help those who had forgotten it was picture day. There are barn scenes, school and outdoor themes. Sometimes the kids hold big crayons, stuffed animals or a football.
There was one particular background that had starbursts at the back of the picture. This was the year my son's picture looked as if he had stars shooting from his head and out his right ear. We have quite a few of those pictures left in the picture box.
I can remember when my husband and I were in high school, and our senior portraits were going to be made. They didn't do them in the summertime; we didn't have the opportunity to choose several clothes changes and backgrounds as they do now.
We were scheduled for one day during the school year, and all the girls used the same black material draped over our shoulders, and the guys were to wear coat and tie.
Well, guys being guys, my then-boyfriend (now husband) and several of his friends forgot it was senior picture day. There was one in their group that had remembered a shirt and tie and another had remembered a coat. Being creative creatures, they decided all to wear "the" tie, shirt and coat. So now in our senior yearbook there are at least five guys with the same outfit!
My goal for the past few years has been to pull out all these wonderful pictures and do a time line of my childrens' school journey. Seeing the changes they had gone through can be surprising not only to me but to them. For me as a parent it will be an interesting look back and reflection on the memories of a certain age and stage.
For families, school pictures are not just looking back and remembering the community tie or the shooting star coming out of your child's ear, they are snapshots of time. And these snapshots create stories that make family memories. Treasure them all!
Karen M. Wicker is an area family and consumer sciences extension agent and a N.C Certified Parenting Educator.
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