My son started part time daycare a week before picture day. His teachers warned me that he might not cooperate for the photographer and that we shouldn’t expect an incredible photo. I didn’t mind, we have hundreds of pictures of Holden – another picture wouldn’t make a big difference.
Holden’s transition to daycare wasn’t very smooth. He was 18 months old and he and I hadn’t spent more than a few hours apart since he was born. He would cry and scream when I dropped him off at school and I would cry in the car on my way to work. I checked my cell phone about 100 times a day to see if the school had called. I felt sick and guilty and I was basically useless at work because I couldn’t stop thinking about him. The two of us were devastated.
Picture day arrived and I put him in a sweater vest, but I figured we would get a picture of him red-eyed and worried. I had already decided that I wouldn’t order one because it would just remind me of what a horrible mother I was.
A few weeks later, Holden was feeling a little more comfortable in his environment and we received the proofs from picture day. Seeing those photos was one of my happiest moments as a mom.
Holden was smiling. It was a little smile – but a smile nonetheless.
I knew looking at that photo, even if he was a little scared and confused, even if I wasn’t around to make things better that he could find something to smile about. He was going to be okay in daycare.
I read somewhere that school photos are declining in popularity, but I think they are important. They are markers of our children’s life at school, their first steps to negotiating the world without our help and guidance. Those pictures are also little momentos of a time that we don’t get to spend with them.
I was so proud of Holden and his smile on picture day that I ordered photos, magnets and buttons. I wore the Holden button on my winter jacket for the next five months.
One day, a woman at the bank looked at my button and said to me, “ I have a son too. I love that you wear that. My son is my heart.”
What’s your favourite “picture day” memory?