Benny and his friend Griffin at Ocean Beach in San Francisco.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Say 'Cheese'

Picture Day.

Those two seemingly innocent words strike fear in the most courageous of parents. I’d been in deep denial about Picture Day for about three weeks. Frankly, I was hostile about the whole thing – why, in the name of God, would a school take the always-crazed month of September (and let’s not mention the still-unpacked moving boxes and a giant, two-week project) and toss in a Picture Day? (1)

But last night I could hide no longer. Ron needed to work late, so it was just me and Benny. The poor kid needed a bath, and I had to comb his wet hair this time instead of letting it dry all stuck-up and freaky. He actually needed a haircut, too, but it was too late for that. He needed new shoes as well, I suddenly realized, since one of his blue race-car shoes had a gaping tear in the front.

I dug through a few boxes and found his black dress shoes, which required his dress slacks and a buttoned-down shirt. Benny stood quietly, watching the movie “Charlotte’s Web” while I draped various clothing combinations on him, including two ties. (I had to give up the tie idea, since they made his shirt collars stick up.)

This morning we turned up at the school, wild-eyed and nearly 30 minutes late. The scene was total anarchy. Bright lights, harried parents, crying kids. Benny was all psyched, though, and kept trying to get into other kids’ pictures. When his turn came, he lit right up. He smiled and posed and giggled; he was practically saying, “where do I hit my mark?” The whole school was watching him, then turned to me. I shrugged sheepishly.

I’m so relieved it’s over. I seem to be saying that sentence a lot lately, but relief is my dominant emotion today. I’m so relieved to b
e finished with that crazy huge project, and yesterday’s tense editors’ meeting, and now Picture Day. Relief as an emotion gets little attention, but it’s so important. So often we rush from stressful thing to stressful thing that we never get a chance to look back and feel good about our accomplishments. Even when said accomplishment is as small as combing your kid’s hair.


(1) There was a Parent's Night event on Wednesday as well, but Ron went to that, thank heavens.

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