It is an afternoon ritual at my house—the cleaning of David's backpack. When he comes home from school, he has no interest in talking about his day, an attitude which manifests itself in part by the shedding of the backpack sometimes half way up the driveway as he walks in from the bus.
About a week ago, I spied the telltale blue envelope with the rest of the school papers—Scholastic Photography. School pictures had arrived.
I paused a moment before I flipped the envelope over to the window side.
David is a school picture veteran, though sadly, I cannot ever have one of those picture frames with mats that people use to proudly display each school picture, all nicely arranged in a circle from Kindergarten to junior year around the large oval in the middle for the senior picture. David has been in school so long, he would need four slots just to get him past Kindergarten. Oh, and Andrew lost his payment envelope his Kindergarten year which resurfaced a month after his first picture day. Consequently, his Kindergarten slot would be empty. I had failed the school picture test on my first attempt, task number 782 in the Good Mother Handbook.
David's first set of pictures came when he was three years old and enrolled in the Early Childhood Special Education program at his current school. Actually, he received two sets of pictures that first year. At that time, the misguided photographer would actually send home the portrait package for parent review and you could choose the pictures that you wanted to keep and send the remaining pictures back with the payment.
I am not sure how many attempts he made to get a good picture of David, but two sets were sent home. In the first set, he was openly weeping. In the second set, you could still see the tears in his eyes, his nose and eyes were red.
Not surprisingly, I sent both complete sets back to school unopened. I must admit that I now wish I had keep a few of the teary shots from year one. But at the time, I wanted them gone. I did not need another reminder of how things that are not difficult for other kids can be so very difficult for David.
We made some progress the next year as his eyes graduated from teary to twinkling. Obviously, David was more comfortable with the whole ordeal. He may not have much of a smile, but he isn't crying either. Plus, the photographer must have recognized the error of his ways and we had to preorder the package, forcing me to commit to at least 18 wallets, a 3x5 and a 5x7.
Here is last year's picture and please note that the David is now communicating well enough to express his preference for wearing red. I will blame the hair on the fact that I think David had P.E. before his pictures because it couldn't be true that I absolutely did not have the energy to fight with him about wetting his hair and combing it before I let him out the door.
Which brings up to present day and ladies and gentlemen, we now have a full blown smile.
This is not a good picture of David, but it is a totally typical, mediocre school picture just like everyone else's terrible school pictures, ranking just slightly above driver's license pictures. David has achieved normal, oops, typically developing mediocrity and I am thrilled. And guess what? I was so confident this year that I ordered a deluxe picture package. Consequently, if you are fortunate enough to be among my Christmas card recipients, you will soon have the pleasure of receiving your very own crappy copy of this picture from a proud Mom-mom, who will measure progress with any yardstick—photographic or otherwise.
Just remember that you are obligated to hang that photo on your refrigerator until at least March, when you can claim, probably rightfully so, that it was destroyed in a coffee brewing catastrophe or fell off the fridge and now resides with the dust bunnies under the stove.