A Recollection: School Pictures

I had a school picture taken this year so that my mom could have some new refrigerator art.

Never mind that I’m a teacher now; I still think that mothers live for these kinds of things, so it was a kind of daughter’s obligation. Besides, I think it’s time for her to replace some of the old ones.

I’m just waiting on the photo at this point. (I’ll be sure to put my name, age, and grade on the back before I mail it to…you know what, those details really aren’t that important. Never mind. Carry on…)

Waiting. Does anyone else remember that? Waiting? Actually waiting for a photograph to be processed and printed before you can actually see it?

You probably have to think back to your own school pictures for that concept.

Yes, every fall, for one magical day, everyone would dress in their finest and line up for a moment sure to be frozen on the outside of the refrigerator for years to come. You’d stand in line with everyone else from your class as the teacher would walk down the row with disposable plastic combs–gotta get that hair under control because the photographer only gets one shot at refrigerator immortality–and take your seat when it was your turn. Fifteen seconds of, “Okay, sweetheart…turn your head this way, now look up, no…your other up…okay, tilt to the right…other right…your right…THERE…perfect…don’t move…now, look at Big Bird and smile! Thank you…NEXT!”

Kindergarten. A classic piece for the Garland refrigerator door. It’s probably still on some distant relative’s refrigerator. You know…the one who will call one of my parents in a few years and ask when I’ll be going off to college.

If you blinked–or, even worse…sneezed–you had to hope that your parents would be okay with letting you do the re-take when they came back to town to catch up with the kids they missed that day. (These photos went straight to the yearbook, you see. On film, you only had one chance to try to look relatively normal. I did re-takes twice–after much begging–attempting to look less like a deer in the headlights.)

After a few years, you start figuring out that you can still wear jeans as long as you wear your good shirt. Unless, of course, you just really like wearing the entire ensemble. I’d always heard that Paul Harvey hosted his radio show while wearing a suit and tie because he felt he did a better job while being dressed professionally, even though he knew no one in his audience would see him.

In the sixth grade, wearing the full ensemble has little to do with professionalism. However, this outfit did have a matching skirt that I LOVED at the time. Yes, I was wearing it. No, no one tried to stop me.

By the time you get to junior high school, you usually have at least one year that you completely forget about picture day being on the calendar. My brother wore a white t-shirt one of those years, and because our school yearbooks were printed in black and white, everything from his neck down disappeared. (I don’t have a copy of it, so I’ll just write what the old yearbooks used to print. NO PHOTO AVAILABLE.)

However yours tended to look, I think we can all agree it was a little bit of an adventure…waiting to find out how your school picture turned out. Did I smile too big? Did I not smile at all? Was there something in my teeth?

I’m still living out my little adventure by waiting on mine, so I’ll let you know if I blinked before it makes its way to Mom’s refrigerator.