Not So Picture Perfect

Momservation: School “Picture Day” becomes a battle of looking cool vs. looking adorable after about 2nd grade.

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Photo courtesy of

I know there are worse things in the world to be upset about than your son blowing his 5th grade school picture.

Global warming. Child poverty. The Tea Party movement.

But I still couldn’t stop myself from being so chagrined with my nearly 11 yr. old son, Logan, that I had to call my husband to talk me down from the ledge.

“Your son is lucky he’s got two hours for me to cool down before he gets home!” I said as way of hello to Hubby as soon as he answered the phone.

“What happened?” he sighed realizing he just picked Door #2 by answering the phone and it was not the prize he wanted.

“I was a nice mom. I wanted Logan to wear the button-up collared shirt that he told me he would wear for school picture day when I agreed to buy it.” I said emphasizing Logan’s first transgression. ”But I let him wear his baseball All-Star jersey because I knew that’s what he was comfortable and happy wearing.”

“You were a nice mom,” Hubby echoed knowing his job.

“The only thing I asked him to do was wear a plain, white undershirt instead of his 49ers T-shirt so the decal wouldn’t show through the white jersey. You should have seen him,” I said, “he looked ridiculous with competing logos all over himself. He looked like a Nascar race car!”

“That seems fair enough. So, what happened?” Hubby gently prodded waiting for me to get to my point of anger.

Finally, I laid it out like I was reporting a crime to a responding officer. “I stopped by school to give Logan’s teacher the volunteer schedule. I see Logan in just his undershirt. But it’s early afternoon, so I know they’ve already taken school pictures. That’s when he nervously giggles and says to me, ‘Oh, hey Mom. Guess what? I forgot to put my jersey back on after I took it off for morning recess. Ha.’”

“So, you took your school pictures in that?” I recalled saying in disgusted horror. Logan had just nodded, shrugged and went back to his work.

“Okay, so he took his picture in a T-shirt,” said Hubby. “What’s the big deal?”

“What’s the big deal?” I shrieked. “Our son just took his 5th grade pictures looking like Slum Dog Millionaire!”

Obviously, a man was the wrong person to call to about this appalling issue.

I was now back to the edge and ready to jump. “I paid $44 for these over-priced pictures that he just ruined! I let him wear his hair in a buzz cut! I resisting making him show me his best smile! Is it too much to ask that for one day of his whole school year he try to look like an upstanding citizen of the community?”

“It’ll be fine,” Hubby soothed. “He’s a handsome kid. He’d look good wearing a paper sack.”

I knew I was being irrational. I took a deep breath. I tried to put things in perspective by thinking of Delaware electing Christine O’Donnell in the primaries – there were much bigger issues in the world.

“You’re right,” I eventually said stepping back from my leap of despair. “But if he brings those pictures home with a dorky smile he’s doing retakes.”


  1. mc6pack says:

    Great line about looking like a NASCAR race car. Really like how the phone conversation leads the reader through the day’s events and illuminates the voice of reason and the voice of Mom.

    Coincidentally, it must be a guy thing. I wore the same Dallas Cowboys’ t-shirt in my 1st-5th grade pictures. It started out as a long-sleeve, skirt-length tee and by 5th was a short-sleeve half-shirt full of holes. Not sure where my mom was during that stretch.

    Great stuff, Kelli.

    • kellimwheeler says:

      Thanks Chase for making me feel good as a writer and a mom! Absolutely love the Cowboys T-shirt perspective. HA! I am a bit surprised that your mom waited so long to hide it. Logan’s size 4T Harley Davidson tank top had to mysteriously disappear or I think he would’ve wore it for his 5th grade pictures.

  2. larisacapodieci says:

    Love this post! You’re not alone, believe me.

    And think of it this way: you get to pull out all of these crazy pictures for his wedding slideshow down the road. You can get your pound of flesh then. =P

    • kellimwheeler says:

      Thanks Larisa! I, of course, should not be throwing stones in my glass house…my 7th grade yearbook pic is the reason why I never want to be famous.

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