Cause of Death: Picture Day

Written By: Andrea Angileri, Ed.S

The clothes are laid out….the back up plan set as well…the day has come.. ‘Picture Day’. Ah…Picture Day. For some it is a piece of cake, for others…well…not so much. Despite the 1,000s of Instagram and Facebook pictures floating around of my children, there seems to be something ‘high stakes’ about picture day. It is a $25-$50 investment that has some risk involved. Hair that wants to fly away…unnatural expressions…you can only hope that the 1/3 of the shirt that shows illustrates some parental attempt at ‘giving a shit’.

Today was a complete breeze for the 5th grader. I gave him 2 choices, he quickly made a choice, put the shirt on, reluctantly…but agreeably wore jeans…requested a belt…moved on. Hair is short, so no fuss no muss. But for the youngest…my daughter…why am I even surprised anymore.

Mistake #1: I actually picked out a shirt. A medieval looking, pretty, obviously uncomfortable shirt. Despite my ‘You’ll look like Elsa’ naïve approach. Doomed to be iced.

Mistake #2: Trying to act nonchalant. “Oh, I’ll just slip this on as her picture day shirt…no biggee”…like I haven’t spent the last 4 ½ years with my daughter.

Mistake #3: Caring. It’s the moment that you realize that you care…but too much…when you fall into the emotional trap of making it about YOU.

Mistake #4: Putting choices on the table…but they are not reflective of your child’s choices. When ‘medieval Elsa shirt that will never get worn ever never ever and should just be given away to another child’ was iced, I instructed my daughter to go upstairs to pick out a shirt. She comes down with a pick and black t-shirt with a bunny that said, “Let’s focus on me”….to—che..

So…I had a choice. I could just let her wear the “Let’s focus on me” t-shirt or get all Type A mommy and redirect her to a couple other long sleeved fall picture looking choices. The morning was young, and Dr. Shefali wasn’t in the room. After a climactic tense moment of me yelling at my daughter through a green and ivory paisley shirt in my daughter’s face, I realized the ridiculousness of the situation…and we would move on to much more important things…like hair.

I didn’t like my hair brushed as a child…and I try to remember this with my daughter….I REALLY…REALLY try. But I lose. I want her to just sit still and let me brush it. I can’t do anything fancy with girl’s hair…it’s just not me. It’s one of those things like housework and cooking that I would gladly pay someone else to do without letting it crumble my domestic OMGodess spirit. My daughter will sit beautifully for my mother-in-law (who is a hair dresser). She will sit through (and even request) to have her hair washed, conditioned, brushed. It just wasn’t in our morning plan to stop by and render that service.

Miraculously, we were all in the car on the way to school. We had all settled down. I would apologize to the boys for the drama and they would be divided. One son would feel bad that I yelled at his sister, the other would be glad I served some ‘justice’ and the other would be on some sort of fence. Watching somebody else’s power struggle is terrible and I would acknowledge that. In the end I would admit, “It doesn’t really matter…it’s just ‘Picture Day’.”

After dropping off the last boy, my daughter would insist that I put on her jacket at this very moment and I would calmly explain that ‘Mommy cannot put on your jacket because I am driving’. A few side streets later, I was able to pull over and invite her into my lap. There were some residual tears left in her eyes and I would help her dry those and restore whatever had broken in her that morning. We would pull up at her school with plenty of time to spare and I would have to tuck away the brush in my large sweatshirt pocket, zip up her jackets…realizing full well that she would probably shed all of the zippered things and end up taking the picture in her underlying pink t-shirt. I would walk her to the door with a couple lame attempts of hair brushing and I would realize (again) it doesn’t really matter in the whole scheme of things. It is her four year old preschool picture, something that just lays in a 8 x 10 frame that will just be covered up next year with her kindergarten picture…and so on and so forth.  And really, isn’t Picture Day somewhat about reminding up who that child really is at that moment in time?

On the drive home, I would recollect everything and anything and realize that ‘Yes…a cause of death is Picture Day…but it is a death to the ego’s self.  Once again, I will acknowledge that God gave me three boys to warm up and a daughter to complete my motherhood baking process. Each one of my children have taught and will continue to teach me numerous things about myself and others. I am learning much more by having a daughter (who at least up to preschool-age) demonstrates classic strong-willed behaviors, than one that is easygoing, because this is my own pre-destined individualized learning plan. But, with anything and everything….this too shall pass. I was reminded of this over the weekend when discussing potty training with a group of child care providers. When you are no longer in the throes of it, you can look back in hindsight and just laugh (mainly at yourself for taking it all so personally)…you will move on to other things and other places…and you might even wish it was all as easy as what 1/3 of a shirt, a few loose fly away hairs, and crooked smile develops on Picture Day.

SMILE! This is captured Witty Wed Motherhood moment!

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