The first sign of Fall.

Dear friends,

In my world, the first sign of Fall is the school photo.

Not cooler temps, not football, not aisles of school supplies including “a bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils” (name that movie!), all of which have arrived in our corner of the world.

No — the real first sign of Fall for me is the ubiquitous school photo, that 2″X3″ technicolor reminder of poor wardrobe choices, goofy smiles, and regrettable hairstyles.

Every now and then, though, a good one comes along. And forgive me if I brag by noting I received a good one yesterday. Take a look:

I’m not sure when school photos got all fancy and stuff, but I’ve noticed the last couple of years we’ve had far more ordering options. I don’t even remember selecting this particular three-shot lineup, but I was delighted to see it sitting on my kitchen island when I got home last night.

I used to think my boy had a whole lotta me in him, but these days all I see are Mr. Mom. Some days I feel like I have two versions of my husband under foot — Mr. Mom 1.0 and Mr. Mom 3.0. Fortunately, both versions seem to run compatibly in our household.

By the way, it feels like approximately 2.47 weeks ago that I came home to find this school photo on the kitchen counter.

I promise not to get all weepy on you, but I do want to say this:


Sorry. I’ll contain myself now.

By the way, the “adorable child” gene did not come from me. My dear sweet Gram saved every single one of my school photos in a small Hallmark book titled “What is a Grandmother?” that I gave her when I was a child. She glued one or two photos to each page of the book and carefully noted the school year and the grade of each. You only need to flip through a couple of pages to figure out I’m not the source of my children’s photogenic features.

That third grade overbite was a doozy, though I have to give my mother props for choosing the snazzy plaid jumper and crisp white blouse.

Before I get off the nostalgia wagon, I just want to mention that I have vivid (and fond) memories of my first- and second- grade portrait outfits. Both were made by Danskin. Does anybody else remember their line of girls’ knit basics — jumpers and turtlenecks and skirts and trousers in Dick-and-Jane shades of navy, red and white? I recall they were a little pricey, more than my single mother could afford, but my Gram always took me “school clothes shopping” and always seemed to find a way to buy several pieces of Danskin to round out my back-to-school wardrobe.

Parker’s back-to-school wardrobe this year consisted of a new pair of athletic shoes and four t-shirts ordered online. Sixteen-year-old boys wear a lot of t-shirts and seem to prefer shopping online rather than going to stores with their mothers, who might or might not hover outside the dressing room and insist they model every conceivable combination of apparel within reach. It’s a modern parenting dilemma I’m learning to live with.

But only until I have grandchildren and get a do-over.

With gratitude {for school photos of my children that on any given day make me weep, but that just might be a sign of aging},

Joan, who invites you to leave a comment about a memorable school photo and thereby convince her that the Year of the Overbite wasn’t the worst in school-photo history



  1. Movie: You’ve Got Mail…I own it 🙂 Makes me want to open a children’s book store every time. Now I have to disagree with you on the photogenic gene. You were adorable and I love the overbite. I recently posted a shot of my youngest pre/post-braces…she had the mother of all overbites 🙂

  2. Of all years to get a ridiculous sunburn – one that actually left my face swollen… I thought my senior portrait would be better if I had a little more “color” to my face. Oh, I got the color I was after all right, and a puffy faced portrait that is an embarrassment to this day. I am pretty sure my very worst driver’s license photo is better than that school year’s “Memory Maker”. Oooof. Now I need to go look at puppies and kittens and babies playing with puppies and kittens just to erase that image from my mind. Yee-ikes.

  3. David Hamby says:

    My first and second grade pictures are, in a word, adorable. (I don’t even recognize the kid.) But in third grade, I had one of an upper adult front tooth grow in front of a baby tooth that hadn’t exited the premises yet. As a result, I was left with a snaggle tooth grin through high school. I’m not sure I’ve purposefully shown a toothy grin for a photographer since then. The scars they are deep.

  4. Lindsey A. says:

    I think all of my school photos up to my Sophomore year were terrible. When I look back through photos of my childhood I was freakin’ adorable, but school photos always came out really horrible. I think a lot of it is the way they had me pose. In one of my school photos it really looks like I’m a confused dog because they had me tilt my head so much.

  5. Mr. Mom 3.0 still has those Crenshaw eyes….

  6. A decade later, my children are now in elementary school. Although the decision was not easy, I chose to forgo my career and its fashionable wardrobe in exchange for bearing witness to my children’s lives.

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