Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Baby Bear's School Portrait

Last Friday when Baby Bear came home from school, I found a wonderful surprise in his backpack: An envelope full of photos—an 8 x 10, a couple of 5 x 7’s, and assorted wallet sizes. It was his “spring portrait” package, just in time for Mother’s Day.

It’s a great photo, as photos of Baby Bear go. Because of his hyper nature, school portraits tend to be very hit-or-miss. We're lucky to get half his face in the shot.

I only wish I’d been told in advance what day the school was taking photos, so he wouldn’t be photographed wearing the same striped shirt he wore for last year’s portrait.

Already I could hear the comments from relatives.

FATHER: “What, you can’t afford to buy him a new shirt? Doesn’t your husband make enough money these days? Maybe you need to sell more books.”

MOTHER: “He should have had his hair cut before his picture was taken.” According to my late mother, anyone whose hair touched the eyebrows, covered the earlobe, and/or fell below the atlas of the spine, needed to be hauled into court so they could have their name legally changed to “Cousin Itt.”

MOTHER-IN-LAW (never to me, but always to Mr. Lucky): “Why is he wearing the same shirt as last year? Does Karen send him to school in the same shirt every day? Doesn’t she ever do laundry? Is she still writing?”

BROTHER (doesn’t matter whose or which): “Now which one of your kids is this again?”

This isn’t the first time I’ve been surprised by photos from Baby Bear’s school. I have one from a couple of years ago in which he’s beautifully posed against a lush, misty forest background. Yet he’s wearing a very casual dark blue-and-gray T-shirt. ARGH! Had I known in advance when they were going to shoot that photo, I would have dressed him in something infinitely more presentable that day.

I check his backpack every day for messages and notices. The school is simply not getting the word out, and Karen is annoyed.

These photos are sent to parents on a sort of honor system. “Select your photos – send in your payment – share with family and friends – then sit back and enjoy their snarky comments about your little darling's ill-chosen outfit!” (Well, okay, that last isn’t on there, but at least for my son’s school, it should be.) You pick the photos you want out of the selection offered, write a check to the company, then return it to the school along with whatever photos you don’t select. I’ve often wondered just how profitable this is for the company doing the photos.

Indeed, this year there was a letter enclosed with the photos, on school district letterhead and signed by the principal, stating, “Any picture debt will be placed on the debt list for the following 08/09 school year and student will be unable to attend the end of the year activities (6th, 7th, 8th grade special events).”

That tells me they’ve had a bit of trouble with their honor system in the past. Mr. Lucky is of the opinion that some of the middle school students, horrified by the braces and acne and overall gawkiness of puberty reflected in the photos, do not take the packages home to their unsuspecting parents, but trash them instead. I know I can’t bear to look at any photo of myself taken at that age.

Baby Bear is not a middle school student, but is enrolled in the “Exceptional Student Center” annexed to the middle school, which is comprised of special needs students of all ages.

On Monday I wrote a check for the photos, and sent it back to school in the envelope provided.

Today is Wednesday, and it’s still in his backpack.

And Karen is still very annoyed.


Phyllis J. Towzey said...

At least you get to SEE what you're buying, Karen. My daughter's school sends home the order form to be returned BEFORE picture day. So, you might be ordering too sparsely the best photo ever taken of your child, or you might get the expensive package and end up with $50 worth of photos of your kid with their eyes shut. It's like the school picture roulette.

Last time I paid extra (in advance, of course) for retouching because my daughter woke up the day before picture day with, heaven forbid, a blemish -- they did blend away the offending blemish -- unfortunately, they also blended away her dimples, lol.

I think my son's school has the best plan -- the phototgrapher they use posts the photos on her website, which you access with the school code, then order exactly what you want.

P.S. just tell them of course it's not the same shirt -- this year's is the new version of that style -- can't they see that the colors are a slightly different hue?

Karen Lingefelt said...

Phyllis, that's how his school does it for fall photos (they're not at all consistent). And you're right, it's roulette either way--for the fall pre-pay at our school, the rules are the company must have the money before they'll even plunk the child in front of the camera. Well, guess what? One year they also forgot to remove the pre-paid envelope from his back pack on picture day. It was still there when he came home from school that day.

That annoyed Karen, too.

P.S. I love your new photo!

Phyllis J. Towzey said...

Thanks, Karen -- I was surprised when my photo popped up -- I recently started a law blog, so I guess google just grabbed it from there.

Vicki said...

Just thought I'd let you know, you won Karen's book on my blog. :D

I always hated to prepay for pictures, because we never wanted to get the big package incase they were not that great. Those were the ones that turned out wonderful and we only had a few pictures.

Karen Lingefelt said...

SQUEE! (as Erica would say)

Thank you, Vicki! And it's SCREAM FOR ME by Karen Rose.

I always preferred when they sent you proofs of the pictures. That was a happy medium.

Phyllis, I do like your blog. It could be a great resource for writers.