School Pictures? Big Deal or Not so Much?

folder ofmemoriesjpgAs bad as this sounds, with every year that passes and with every kid that joins our family, school pictures become less and less important to me.  I know many of you moms take it really seriously (and I admire that), but here’s why I don’t primp my boys, don’t fret and most often, actually forget!

With three different school schedules, it’s hard to keep track of everything going on in my children’s lives.  Even when I do write something on my calendar, if I don’t look at it, I don’t know about it. (Yes, I still have a calendar that I write in as opposed to a phone).

My kids have always had a mind of their own when it comes to their dressing habits and styles.  When my first born was in pre-school, he had a favorite pair of red pants and insisted on wearing them every day.  I was afraid his teacher would think he was dirty or that we didn’t have enough clothes for him, but I soon realized it’s typical and the teachers really don’t care or judge.

If wearing his red pants everyday made my son feel good, then I was all for it.  My second child cried every day when I dropped him off so his appearance was the least of our problems.  My third is by far my funniest dresser.  He has a few favorite outfits that he will actually sleep in so when he gets up, he is already dressed and ready to go.  Sounds good to me!

He loves white undershirts and as we all know, white and a three year old are not a good marriage.  Stains or not, he wears them, along with his older brother’s high socks, which cover his knees.  I should mention that the socks don’t match on purpose and he rocks one glove every day.  I love his individuality and the way he expresses himself through his clothing.

This brings me to photo day.  Do I need my kids to look perfect on picture day?  In my mind, no.  It simply does not bother me if my child looks homeless for picture day.  They are clothes and that is it.  I actually learned that my three year old’s teacher put him in a different shirt than what the white one he was wearing on picture day.  She didn’t think I would want to capture him in his stained undershirt, which I thought was really thoughtful of her.

I honestly had no idea it was picture day (clearly) and when I saw all the adorable girls in their dresses and boys in their button downs and Polos, I wondered what their mornings were like.  Were their parents begging and bribing them to dress this way?  Was their kicking, crying and tantrums?  OR…did some kids simply not care what they wore to school and left it up to their parents?  Either way, kudos!

When I saw my son’s school picture, the first thing I said was, “whose shirt is that?”.  I love that she cared enough to change his shirt but I would have been perfectly fine with a picture of him in what he chose to wear that day.  I didn’t end up purchasing those pictures.  It just didn’t “capture” who he was at 3 years old.

I want to look back at these pictures and remember my children as they were.  While I let them know it’s important to look their best and make a good impression, I also encourage them to feel their best.  It is a battle I am not willing to fight, especially since there are so many others, as we all know.

I remember the days when I would pay the ridiculous amount of money for 100 wallet size pictures, a few huge 8x10s and numerous 5X7s.  I would send each grandparent their pictures and put one in a frame for the house.  Now my kids are 9, 7 and almost 4, and all school pictures live in an envelope.  Who has time to cut pictures and put them in envelopes to mail to all the family members?  Not me!  I wish I did but I don’t.  My new thing is to take the example sheet they give you with a watermark through your child’s head.  I know, a bit pathetic but I refuse to pay for pictures that live in an envelope in my linen closet.

To all those moms who coif their children’s hair, put them in a sweater vest, button down shirt, frilly dress and shiny shoes, more power to you.  If your child lets you do that, hey, go for it.  Seriously, you rock! With my kids, I have bigger fish to fry and I don’t need them to look perfect to create a fake memory for me.  I have some friends whose kids allow them to dress them in the morning and that is awesome.  I wish that was the case but it’s not.  I do try….it may not look like it but I do try.

Even this morning, I said to my seven year old. “Do you want to brush your hair this morning”? (That is code for, “You kind of need to brush the mop living on your head).  His response was, “Nah, I’m good”, so guess what, I was good too.  My response back was, “Okay, you look great”.  Why push and force him to brush his hair?

I do draw the line with my three year old picking out clothes from the dirty hamper every day when he has 800 other clean options.  Okay, maybe I gave in a few times but again, not worth the fight.  If his favorite shorts don’t smell like urine, his favorite shirt doesn’t have boogers on it and stains from yesterday morning’s oatmeal, sometimes he wins.

For me, it’s not about giving in all the time, but paying attention to what makes my kid’s comfortable and feeling beautiful.  I try to balance my three year old’s yearning to look a certain way with my yearning for him to actually wear the clothes I spend money on.  Some days I am really only concerned with getting all three kids out the door before 7:15 in the morning.  Other days I will put my foot down.  I just cross my fingers my youngest is not labeled the smelly kids in class.

Whether your child is polished and primped for picture day or scruffy and shabby, like mine, it’s not about judging one another but doing what works for your family.  From my perspective, I will look back and be perfectly okay with the memory of my child at school the way he really was: messy, disheveled and in need of a shower.  🙂

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Enjoy these pictures below of all the different ways my son chose to express himself over the last few years.  I supported every single one although I did get some strange looks during the ‘underwear on head’ phase. Hmmm…wonder why?