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:

OH MY GOD! WAS THERE EVER A MORE ADORABLE CHILD IN A SWEATER VEST?

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

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