Stephenville Empire-Tribune and Glen Rose Reporter, October 2018
I pack my suitcase for a three-day trip. It’s my weekly routine to pack the morning of the trip—while the kids get ready for school—throwing in a sea of toiletries and undergarments, topped off by a clean uniform shirt for each day I am traveling. Serving drinks and meals on full flights from tiny beverage and meal carts is precarious at best, especially if there happens to be unexpected turbulence in route.
“Mom,” my daughter’s voice breaks my concentration, “it’s picture day tomorrow. Do you HAVE to go to work?” Her concern is warranted. We didn’t want a repeat of past picture day debacles that occurred coincidentally when I was out of town, working—which seemed to be most years.
My daughter and son had equally embarrassing experiences. They are two years apart in age and in school and it was weird that third grade was THE YEAR for both of them. I turned from my packing to see them standing behind me with anxious faces.
My daughter’s incident, her third grade year (1995), occurred because I forgot about picture day and went off to work without leaving specific instructions for my husband regarding picture-worthy outfits and hair styling tips. He always does his best to assist and does a passable job on regular school days. Picture day is not a “regular” school day though. The kids in our small Texas town pull out all of the stops with grooming and carefully choose only the coolest of outfits to wear. It is never good to stand out as the kid who forgot about picture day.
My daughter had a new haircut with bangs…which is not the best idea when you have inherited unmanageable wavy locks. Her barely-groomed bangs were parted in the middle displaying a perfect pointed widow’s peak and then curled inward at cheek-level, reminiscent of Dwight Schrute in “The Office." Top that off with a two-piece plaid ensemble (bermuda shorts and vest) and you are creating the perfect scenario for being ridiculed. She survived the day but a blackmail worthy picture was created which we placed front and center in her scrapbook of school memories.
My son’s event spanned two years. The first year, he was in second grade (1996) and I set out a nice red shirt with shorts for him to wear before I left for my trip. My husband got him all fixed up, wearing the picture-day-outfit. No problem. He looked really nice. It was a win!
I was working once again the following year...his third grade year (1997)...but remembered about pictures and called to remind them. My husband confidently said, “I’ve got this.” Our daughter was in fifth grade and she was presentable, but our son had a rough time. My husband took him to the barbershop to get his haircut the day before pictures and accidentally asked for a “GI” instead of the “High and Tight” that was his usual style. The results were disastrous with his head shaved close.
I didn’t think too much about the outfit my husband had picked out until I got the envelope with the photo proofs and he was wearing the same shirt he had worn in second grade. Exactly the same except he was a little bigger and had less hair. This haircut scarred him for life, but the photo still went front and center in his school memories scrapbook.
Back to the present, I continue to look at my children’s anxious faces and I notice the car keys dangling from my daughter's hand. She is getting ready to drive to high school, only stopping to drop her brother at the junior high. They are so grown up. I am flattered that they think they still need my help on picture day. “You’ve got this,” I tell them with confidence.
By Lisa H. Owens