I’ve just produced photographic evidence that Youngest Son wore the same shirt- the exact same turquoise Under Armor polo shirt- for three consecutive school pictures. (Since our elementary school has a spring photo session as a fundraiser, he wore it for one spring, one fall, and then the following spring.)
Damn picture day always catches me off guard. You’d think with three kids (the oldest being 17), I would have this down to a science by now.
Apparently quite the opposite. It’s become like background noise, it isn’t loud enough to need immediate attention, (rather like how moms can accurately discern the quality of their kids yelling…) so I block it out and move on to the next pressing matter. Or it’s like that spot on the wall that really needs to be repainted. I pass by it multiple times a day and say to myself, “Oh I really need to fix that,” but I’m on my way to deal with something else, so that gets pushed aside, again. I know it’s there, that I have to do something about it, but until it’s crunch time (i.e. the night before, or maybe even the morning of), I don’t really face it.
“Just wear a collar shirt,” I said to Youngest Son as he reminded me of picture day last year.
“But I only have this one,” he said and showed me the turquoise one.
I forgot to get him a different shirt? I sighed to myself.
“That’s okay, you like that shirt, and it’s a really great color on you!” I said. What else was I going to say? If I left him to his own devices, I’d have years of photos with Star Wars graphics or Minecraft memes that I paid fifty bucks a pop for.
My expectations have lowered considerably with child number three.
When Oldest Daughter and Middle Daughter were in day care and preschool, I would go shopping for weeks leading up to picture day, trying to find just the right outfit. Not too frilly or over-the-top, but classy and cute without looking like I’d spent weeks shopping for it. And on several occasions, they matched. It was fun to shop for new school clothes and even new school supplies.
I have now just rolled into my thirteenth new school year, that’s 28 first days of school, if you add them all up from all three of my kiddos. I used to make a day out of shopping for new school supplies. We’d plan our day to go out, the four of us; we’d be armed with our “supply lists” and it was like a fun scavenger hunt. Then we’d stop for lunch or ice cream. This year I took inventory of the things we still had in the closet, and I went to Staples…by myself… because there was a big sale…in July. And no one wanted to shop for back to school in July. The supply lists weren’t even out, so I was basically just taking an educated guess, and hoping for the best.
When I dragged in all the bags from shopping that hot day, I walked past the cubbies in the front hall, two of which were still stuffed with papers, books, report cards and other things from the last day of school. Here’s where something of significance happened: I used to make the kids clean and sort all that “last day” stuff right away. This year I looked at it, sighed and looked away. For ten summer weeks, I looked away. Since it was piled rather neatly, and not falling out onto the floor, I reasoned that it wasn’t really bothering me. I’ve fought that battle before, and decided now that it wasn’t worth it. I told the kids they’d have to sort through it eventually, as in, before the first day of school, and they’d roll their eyes at me and say, “I KNOW Mom!” And I let it go. I could say that both Middle Daughter and Youngest Son waited – literally- until the last day of summer to clean this stuff out, but I’m afraid that would be too obvious.
So we’ve ushered in another new school year. Yay! I always think September is going to be quiet, and it usually isn’t. It’s only quiet when the kids are all in school. September is a deluge of forms, day after day, week after week, spilling out of backpacks, piling up on my counter, emails clogging my inbox, with links to more forms; new schedules and then updates to those new schedules, and more emails with volunteer “opportunities”, and schools asking for checks and fees for clubs, sports, yearbooks, PTA memberships, fundraisers, and oh yeah, those damn picture forms.
Isn’t everyone glad to “get back into a routine”??
So I started with the information forms, which come home year after year after year, and have no option for “SAME AS LAST YEAR.” I dutifully filled in my home address, which has been the same for 12 years, and wrote our phone numbers down 18 times, and four emergency contacts for each of the three kids, times two forms for each school, my hand was looking rather arthritic and I was part of the chorus of parents in town asking “why aren’t these done online yet?”
Among the 279 forms that needed attention, one was the Band Boosters t-shirt form for Youngest Son. As a fourth grader, he was excited to have the option to learn an instrument in school and be part of the band. We’ve been through this before, both Oldest Daughter and Middle Daughter were in the band; one played trumpet, the other clarinet. What do you think the chances were of us convincing him to play one of the instruments we already own? If you guessed zero chances, you’d be correct!
We are renting a violin. Because you don’t buy a violin for someone who’s still growing. And because we made the mistake of buying a clarinet for Middle Daughter, who’s motivation for actually learning this instrument fizzled out four months after she started playing it.
So, he needs a t-shirt for band. I need to buy a band t-shirt. Which wouldn’t be so frustrating if I could possibly locate one of the at least two androgynous band t-shirts that are somewhere in a bin in the attic from when his sisters were in band. It might actually take a full day to maybe find one, at which point I ask myself, is it worth it? I’m not even done with all the forms, checks, and emails yet. Is it really worth it to spend an entire day in the cramped sweaty attic or should I just fork over the twelve-friggin’-fifty for another new band t-shirt?
I sent in my check today.
Now I just have to remember to get him a new shirt before picture day comes around.