Picture Day Proves Once Again I Have No Soul To Steal

I’m pretty sure schools created picture day to ruin my life.

I start planning our picture day attack twelve hours in advance because we have to be there early. Like at least fifteen minutes BEFORE our alloted time slot since, in the school’s infinite wisdom, FOUR OTHER FAMILIES have the SAME TIME SLOT. Plus, anyone who shows up early just gets put on the list in the order they appear. And we all want to be out of there by nine. WE ONLY HAVE THREE HOURS TO DO EVERYTHING!

Step one of the plan is to explain to my son that tomorrow is picture day.


His soccer clothes are the many uniforms that he has collected from various soccer teams and a soccer obsessed father and godfather. Most of which are currently in the wash. And four out of five are SHORTS and tomorrow is a high of fifty-four degrees in the South (which translates into Yankee as dressing like it’s thirty degrees).

I should’ve just given up there. But he didn’t come by his stubborn by accident. So I move on to step two.

This step is influenced by the fact that our preschool allows for sibling pictures and consists of sorting through the kids’ clothing for matching without noticeably matching outfits. I accidently color code them blue and pink. But I’m okay with it because it turns out we don’t dress our kids like picture day preps on a regular basis so I have three choices. Two of which clash.

I show E his outfit with the glee that only a mom which delusions of kids tilting their heads to the left JUST A LITTLE MORE and holding that adorable smiling. And I add the promise that he can change into his soccer clothes (minus the shorts) just minutes after the picture is taken.

He cries.

He falls asleep ten minutes later. I remain delusional until morning.

We wake up, and I spend the first hour and a half trying implement step 3, also known as getting dressed, with a variety of bribes, punishments and positive parenting techniques (at least four) to make my vision, of beautiful babies in sweater dresses and button-downs captured perched on a white chair in front of a blue cloudy background of serenity, a reality

Instead, I see a half-naked boy running around screaming I HATE PICTURES and a little girl in the pink dress and ONE WINTER GLOVE who won’t take her coat off.

And, of course, once we arrive at school, we get booted out of line. TWICE. Because N is SMILING so she MUST BE OKAY STANDING THERE FOR TEN MORE MINUTES. Bad call school people. Because those were her final ten minutes of smiling. Once she goes in front of the camera, she cries. And cries. And the photographer thinks he can solve it by poking her in the stomach and speaking in a high-pitched voice that causes the neighborhood dogs to hump legs. Unless we are going for the desperately reaching for me with her pathetic lip pout look, I think that we’re done.

And my son? He eventually goes to school. With clothing on. I see this as a major victory. Because I am again firmly grounded in reality.

Here are my picture day photos:

Where E's outfit stayed for ALL of picture day

How E actually dressed. (Let's pretend I won the shorts battle as well.)

E running away from his khakis.

N's backpack wore her hair bow. At least someone did.

And I didn’t even get a picture of N in her dress. But I do have a video clip which MAYBE, JUST MAYBE, makes up for the torture of picture day. Mostly because I asked: What do we say to Mama for all her hard work?

Or perhaps: N, say thank you.

You’re welcome.

Alex Iwashyna

Alex Iwashyna went from a B.A. in philosophy to an M.D. to a SAHM, poet and writer by 30. She spends most of her writing time on LateEnough.com, a humor blog (except when it's serious) about her husband fighting zombies, awkward attempts at friendship, and dancing like everyone is watching. She also has a soft spot for culture, politics, and rude Southern people who offend her Yankee sensibilities. She parents 2 elementary-aged children, 1 foster baby, 3 cats, and 1 puppy, who are all Southern but not rude. Yet.

18 thoughts to “Picture Day Proves Once Again I Have No Soul To Steal”

  1. This is precisely how my picture days go!! The Fairy Princess went to school all pretty with a light jacket, which she was to take off for pictures, right?? Wrong!! There she is in her pictures, with that coat on and her hair all fuzzy because she had her hood up too.

    Why didn’t you take the coat off baby?? Well I was cold Mama. Of course you were!!

  2. Oh my gosh this is so true. Truer than true! And no one really cares about all the hard work and VISION we put in to making memories on film do they? NO ONE CARES! But they will be BEGGING us for more pictures when the kids are grown up and off to Gov. school or college or ran away from their photo obsessed mommies. BEGGING. Kudos to your effort Alex, KUDOS!

  3. It’s so sweet to see you fight the Good Fight. BUT these are the easy years. Wait until they’re in middle school and they come home with the proofs.
    Mom: When was picture day?
    Kid: I forget.
    Mom: You could’ve combed your hair for me.
    Kid: But I, I, I DIIIIIIIID COMB IT!!!
    Mom: Go to your room.
    Kid: I hate you.
    Mom: Hate me quietly in your room.

      1. Then you’ll Love our other family classics:
        “It’s not your fault, we’re just blaming you.”
        “Shut up or I’ll tell who your Dad really is.”
        “I Love you Mother of Five. Back at ya Father of Three.”
        “Yours and Mine are beating up Ours.”
        “I hate my brother! Shut up and eat what you’re served.”
        “Leave Mom out of this, she was drunk.”

  4. First, someone delusional is running the show… Time slots but you get pushed? Sibling pictures? We had one photoshoot for the last five years. I found a semi-retired photojournalist because he needed mad skills to catch the single smile of the two hours. And picking cloths. Yeah, that never works here either. My 18 mo is already learning the art of dramatic rejection.

  5. I just got the proofs back from the boys’ pictures last week and my oldest is smiling nicely but his hair looks like he just rolled out of bed. And my youngest is sobbing a huge open-mouthed sob with tears and he is as red as his sweater. School pictures bite!

  6. No, no. I don’t want picture day- EVER! We have a hard enough time just getting out of the house to go ANYWHERE.
    That’s it, he’s never going to school… wait, that means he’ll be here all the time… pictures- YAY!

  7. by the time he’s in third grade all you’ll care about is that they have clothes on. period.

    my husband has one of those staged family photos from when he was about eight. his sister was 2, which would have made it about 1982; that tells you everything you need to know about what they were all wearing. sarah had been sobbing hysterically for half an hour before they got the shot, so while she is not actually crying in the picture, her face is swollen to about three times its normal size, her hair is sticking up every which way, and her eyes are little sticky-looking slits. my husband is wearing the biggest horn-rimmed glasses EVER, and his stepfather (a Presbyterian minister and very nice guy) looks like every creepy pedophile you’ve ever seen on TV. it’s the only professional picture they ever made (i wonder why) so it was on display in every house and photo album they ever had. i should send it to the Awkward Family Photos. it is truly a masterpiece of family photo fail.

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