816 North Opinion

August 12, 2014

Line up and smile, the parade has begun

From kindergarten to senior year, there’s no photo opportunity like the first day of school.

In a seemingly choreographed dance across the land, they line up and smile. Each is wearing an outfit that best represents them.

Maybe it’s sporty or trendy or goth. Maybe the kid picked it out, maybe mom did or maybe it was just on the top of a pile of clean clothes. However the ensemble was created, it will be immortalized in family albums and on social media as part of the Back-to-School photo parade.

My kids participate each year by standing on our porch. The morning is always chaotic but they stop for just a moment to indulge me.

“Smile! One more. Luke! Not the fake smile, the real one.” When they are gone and an afghan of silence cuddles the house, I add it to the collection of similar shots from preschool through high school. By now they are experienced; they know to stand still and pose. They know that resistance is futile. Experience has taught them not to mess with a mom on a photo mission.

The experience will also serve them well when – Godwillingandthecreekdon’trise – they advance to their senior year: The Year of the Photograph.

When firstborn Bekah was in kindergarten she put on a new navy jumper with apple shaped buttons and smiled on the porch for more poses than was necessary. My baby! Kindergarten! She was excited, I was excited … EVERYONE WAS EXCITED!

She wore that same dress for two more back-to-schools until it didn’t fit anymore. Each year since, even now on the cusp of 18, she picks out a new school dress.

“How about this for the first day of school and maybe senior pictures?” she asked me as she twirled around a dressing room in a store playing very loud pop music. The rust color looked nice on her and the flowing dress style reminded me of something from the late ’60s.

“Add a daisy headband and it will look even more amazing.”

“Can I get away with a flower-crown? I’m a senior.”

“Honey, you ARE a senior … you can get away with anything,” I said getting caught up in the moment, not thinking about dress codes or improper behavior.

We bought the dress and headband. This week it will be photographed on our porch when she has her last back-to-school porch picture taken.

But that porch photo won’t be her first time in front of a camera to capture a moment from her senior year. Oh no, that started a couple of weeks ago with band portraits. A week later, during school registration, she sat down with three separate photographers: senior school ID, senior yearbook, and then she slipped into a gown and held a mortar board in our school colors for another portrait.

That makes five “Official Senior” photographs before her first class of the year.

Soon we’ll be making an appointment with our favorite photographer for an outdoor, multi-outfit, formal senior portrait session this fall. Factor in other milestone senior events like homecoming, prom and all the group yearbook photos … we’re going to need more frames.

But first, let’s get her on the porch and into the parade on that first day.

Thirteen years ago she smiled for my camera because I didn’t want to forget the feeling we both had as she started the first year of a new adventure.

This year she will smile for my camera one more time because I don’t want to forget the feeling as she begins this last year.

Class of 2015: Smile.

Susan Vollenweider lives in Smithville. For more of her writing, go to thehistorychicks.com.

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