Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Smile For The Camera - That way no one will recognize you


It's an important day for The Boy. Today is picture day at school. Time flies when you're stressed.

It seems that you just get all the supplies and wardrobe in order, work out the drop-off and pick-up schedules, remember which days are gym and require sneakers, which days are Library days so you can hunt down the borrowed book which is most likely residing under a bed or a couch cushion and as soon as you think you are ready to take one relaxed breath - it's picture day.

I can remember the long hours of thought and discussion that went into the choosing of an outfit for The Girl on picture day, but The Boy doesn't really seem to care. I think that's the best approach, anyway. Carefully planned color schemes to highlight their eyes and paying the extra fee for a custom background, retouching, framing and personalized monographing has not once proved to result in a better portrait. The color scheme you spent so much time choosing usually turns out to make the child look sallow or of alien origin, the strips on the shirt strobe, the carefully curled hair goes limp and ill-kempt and generally you get a very carefully planned and expensive fiasco. The best pictures happen when you missed reading that notice from school or your child used it to write out their birthday gift wish-list and you sent them to school looking just like themselves.

The Boy presents a few special problems of his own, I will admit. First, there's the haircut he gave himself just a few days before school started. This consisted of one very close chop just above the forehead, effectively removing any of that pesky hair that was falling into his face and annoying him, but also rendering a sort of swollen-brain syndrome look. The other scissor chops were placed in random spots on the sides and the back of his head. I made a valiant attempt to even it out as much as possible and it certainly helped to put a little gel on it and pretend he was supposed to look like a rock performer. It has grown a bit more, so I once again went at his head with scissors last night, leaving it all a bit more even, but definitely not stylish.

Then there are the photographic faces. He has two, and neither of them belong to him. As I sit here writing this I am looking at a picture taken by his teacher in class last year. He has both hands on his face pulling his skin and his eyelids in opposite directions. One eye appears to be rolled up into his head and the other is unnaturally wide open and staring. I know it's him because I recognize the Spiderman sweatshirt. His other photographic face is quite calm, studious and sweet. That's not him either.

In the end I settled for making sure he washed his face, brushed his teeth and wore clean clothes. I didn't tell him to smile or to sit still. I was afraid any sort of instructions might make the situation worse. I chose the plainest and cheapest of backgrounds and studiously avoided thinking about what color shirt would go best with it.

I have written out the hefty check to pay for these unseen portraits and await the resulting images with motherly pride and some well-learned trepidation. Oh, and The Girl? She's thirteen and believes that her mother is clueless so would never think of asking for my advice on her clothes and hair on picture day. Thank goodness. Teen attitude is good for something at least.

2 comments:

easywriter said...

I have a picture of my youngest at age five. His school picture is now one I treasure. He "forgot how to smile" the result was comical and his Gran who was babysitting while I was at work sent him to school in his pyjamas that day (long story). I was mortified at the time.

Andrea said...

School pictures - once a year and often there isn't much change unless it was a growth year or the year all the front teeth fell out. It's funny but at the time, we want these perfect pictures of the handsome little devils to proudly display. Later, it's the pictures that show their personalities that are really the ones we hold dear. We always knew they were beautiful, that's a given. It's harder to capture their spirits in a photo and maybe the one with his face all contorted is my favorite picture of The Boy.