Another rite of passage came upon us today: Picture Day.
That day of the year when mothers all over the world try exceedingly hard to get their offspring to look camera ready. A day when mothers speak through clenched teeth as they order, nay threaten, their children not to wear hockey jerseys or the green shirt with the huge grease stain on it. Hair is washed, or at least combed, all in an effort to produce a photogenic subject. A stressful process which culminates in the delivery of printed photos of said subject; sporting a strange smile, head tilted at odd angles, and squinty eyes.
And copious amounts of homeless wallet photos. Because, after all, a kid usually has a maximum of four grandparents. What to do with the remaining four or twelve wallet sized pictures?
Yes, it was picture day today. And I didn’t even forget. Because that’s so……preschool 2007…..to forget this hallowed day and send your child to school with regular (likely stained) clothes and uncombed and unwashed hair. The teachers, who helpfully offered to let me drive home and pick out another outfit, were not impressed with my breezy response: ‘Agh, that’s okay, this is what he really looks like, after all.’
But that was preschool. This is Kindergarten. I decided this first picture day warranted a new shirt. Why I felt the need to spend money on a shirt when I was also going to have to shell out money for funky pictures, I don’t know. Rookie performance anxiety, maybe.
But there weren’t any opportunities for kid-free shopping from the time I became aware of the photo session (Monday night) to when it would transpire (Wednesday at noon).
Which is why the whole family was ensconced in the car-van at 10.40am today, headed towards the Westhills Shopping Centre in search of a suitable shirt in a size 5. The professor hunkered down at the train table in the bookstore with the older two; I half-walked, half-ran into Mexx and Winners while toting B3 in his carseat. To see what I could see.
At 11.17am I emerged, victorious. The proud owner of a size 5 plaid button-up shirt. I hustled to the bookstore to corral the troops. It was approximately 11.37 when we pulled up to the curb in front of our house. And 11.56 when the Gort and I jumped back inside to drive to school.
What happened during that nineteen minute interval?
I ran inside the house like a madwoman (reminiscent of Elaine from Seinfeld trying to get her annoying boyfriend to the airport on time), grabbing leftovers from the fridge, which Jason reheated for the boys’ lunch. Then I ran upstairs to get a coordinating t-shirt to wear under the new purchase. After which I ran back downstairs, instructing my oldest to raise his arms so I could whip off the (hypothetical) green shirt with the grease stain, and put on the other two shirts.
Before he could finish protesting ‘I don’t want to wear this shirt’, he was wearing it. He started making a fuss about how the shirt still had tags on, so I used my Jack Nicholson voice (‘You can’t handle the truth’) about how I was just leaving the tags on to make sure the shirt fit and then I would remove them.
By the time the tears dried, the tags had been removed and all was well.
Except the hair. The hair!
I’d honestly meant to wash his hair the previous night. But there was a red alert meltdown at the Johnson home and the Gort was sent to bed before the clock struck 7. No bath. No hair washing. Which meant I could only try to comb his ‘sandy’ blond hair into picture perfection.
Minor problem: the kid doesn’t like to have his hair combed, and the only time I ever comb it is after a hair washing. (Judge not, lest you be judged.) I figure there’s a reason God gave me boys instead of girls: He is tired of seeing me walk around with the same ponytail I’ve been sporting since first grade, and doesn’t want me to pass on my non-haircare to another female.
Really, I’m surprised I haven’t been lured under false pretenses to one of those makeover shows in order to be publicly ridiculed for being 35 and not having a discernible hairstyle.
But this isn’t about me. It’s about the kid who was batting away my hands as I tried to swoop in with the black comb. And tiny tube of hair gel. To combat flyaway strands. ‘You can’t comb my hair…I’m trying to eat!’
We raced to the Kindergarten drop-off line, to arrive at the appointed 12.03 time, only to stand around because the bus was late, again. I stood beside a couple of moms and we watched our kids line up and walk into the building.
‘Remember to take off your socks,’ the fellow mom called to her (adorably dressed) little girl. ‘No socks!’ she reminded-ordered. Because the socks were just to keep her feet warm in her fashionable but unsuitable-for-cold-weather shoes. ‘And remember – don’t wear your inside shoes for pictures. Wear your outside shoes. Because the inside shoes do not go with your outfit!’
Ugh. I hadn’t even considered what shoes he should wear.
I raced back home so the professor could leave for his 1pm appointment. Once home, I rabidly consumed six delicious oatmeal cookies, chased by my second cup of coffee for the day.
Until next year.