School has been back in swing for weeks now, and in our region, the school photographer is making the rounds. Every year my children head off to school looking reasonably tidy, with me waving good-bye and knowing that this year?
This will be the year they hit the mark.
A few weeks later they’ll pull crisp white envelopes out of their backpacks and proudly show me their school photos.
Photos I paid for.
And this year? This year will not be the year.
So in the interest of preventing our children from becoming a horrible Facebook meme, I’ve prepared some school photo tips for this Tip Thursday:
- Write the date down as soon as you receive notice. I can’t tell you the number of times my son has been photographed in a skull and cross-bones bathing suit simply because I didn’t mark the date on the calendar. (Note: Three.)
- Practice photo poses at home. Showing your child how to smile at a stranger may not keep him safe on the playground, but it’ll pay off come Christmas card season.
- Send a tidy lunch. Picture Day is no time for marinara meatball surprise in the thermos, parents. Keep it dry and keep it tidy. Crumble free crackers or soft pieces of bread are a good bet. Actually, it may be best to “forget” to pack your child a lunch altogether that day. Offer a big breakfast instead. Bonus: gaunt, pale cheeks in photos are flattering to all body types.
- I’m a firm believer of the “If you’re not the worst, then you’re pretty much almost sorta the best” principle. It works like this: if in a class of say, 25 kids, mine aren’t wearing the most unmatched patterns, have the most unkempt hair, or sport the most mustard on their t-shirts, we’re in the clear. No one’s gonna remember my son as being the standout if another kid in that year’s picture is missing one sleeve of his hoodie and he looks like he’s been crying because his lunch was stolen.
- Before children assemble for pictures, sign in at school as snack-parent. Find your child’s locker, then move two lockers to the right. In that locker you will no doubt find school gear including a hoodie and a lunch box. Tear one sleeve off the hoodie, and steal the lunch box. Pro tip: hoodie sleeve can be used to wipe down fingerprints left at scene.
- If you’re lucky and your school offers a green screen “choose your own background” option, request “pig pen” or “mud pit.” This will pre-emptively quell the “What the hell is on his face?” questions you’ll no doubt get from well-meaning relatives who clearly never had male children.
Finally, if – despite all your best efforts to starve, vandalize, and bribe your way to successful photos – cherish the ones you get. They’re a clear snapshot of who your child was that day. If that means he or she is wearing a superhero themed pajama top, mismatched bedroom sneakers, and a hat they took from the bowling alley lost-n-found, then so be it.
Unlike the hat, the photo won’t smell like beer and urinal cakes.