Does the Perfect School Photo Truly Exist? One Mom Weighs In

The Notice

Usually emptying my kids’ backpacks is a chore. I find a bunch of drawings and cut up pieces of paper “money,” an acorn, a rock, someone else’s broken barrette and try to decide what do to with it all that won’t result in some kind of drama. Then one day it comes. The shiny, pretty flyer with all the perfectly smiling, neat, pumpkin / bunny / Santa / **insert theme here** holding children, and I begin to daydream about sending prints to family members and ordering the perfect package to accommodate all.

The Night Before

The night before I am sure to wash and condition the kids’ hair so that it’s easy to manage in the morning. I set out an outfit that will show how much they’ve grown but not make them look “too old.” I take care to organize the matching accessories so that they’re easy to find and add just the right amount of flair. I make sure the kids go to bed on time so that they will wake up refreshed and ready for their big picture day.

The Morning Of

In the morning, leave-in conditioner is applied, hair is brushed and styled and sprayed. Bows are inserted, earrings are changed, and the children are adorned in their carefully ironed outfits – AFTER breakfast. After arriving to school, we wave to them and watch their adorable curls bounce gleefully. I’m excited and just know that their photos will turn out great. After all, I’ve prepared so much; what could possibly go wrong?

The Envelope

A few weeks after that oh-so fun morning of preparation, THE envelope arrives. The one with the cellophane front and the child’s photo inside. I carefully open the top and slide out the photos, knowing in my heart they will turn out just perfect.

His hair is a disaster. Her curls form a frizzy halo around her head. His shirt has a stain. Her bow somehow got changed. Her hair is no longer in that carefully coiffed pigtail. He has a cut on his chin. Their smiles are crooked and one eye might be closed a little.

I was right. They are absolutely PERFECT.

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  1. Tara, as you know, your father-in-law is from a family of 10. When they were all small, a bout of pinkeye swept through the family, just in time for school picture day. It’s a pretty hilarious sight, even now. A parade of really cute kids from Kindergarten up, each and every one with a beatific, un-self-conscious smile – and pink eyes.


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