First Day of School Photos

I forgot to take a First Day of School Photo. Again. This is, I believe, the 8th year in a row I have forgotten. I remembered the year my oldest child went to Kindergarten. At least I think I did.

There have been some years that I have staged a First Day Photo by taking it in the afternoon. Or the next day. Or the next week. Last year I wasn’t even in town for their first day so I never bothered taking a photo later, figuring that a lost moment is a lost moment and why pretend otherwise. This year I probably won’t bother, either. I suppose that makes me a bad mom, compared to all the together mothers who have First Day photos taken of their kids holding adorable signs declaring the date, their grade, and probably their shoe size.

My father was a semi-professional photographer. It was something he did on the side of his Air Force career. He had a darkroom and would photograph many weddings, graduations and church events on Orcas Island. I remember well the chemical scents that would rush out of his darkroom door when he’d open it after being hard at work. I learned to count by “helping” him count down the seconds that negatives needed to soak in their solution as I heard him counting through that door.

Despite Dad’s propensity for taking pictures, Mom used to complain that, like barefooted shoemaker’s children, there were never enough photos of us, their three daughters, coming out of Dad’s camera. One year, in fact, she got so cross that she took us to the other photographer in town, who happened to be our friend. I wasn’t happy being there and nothing could make me smile until he brought out a little black and white kitten, and I held it for my picture with a smile as wide as the sun.

I’m not sure how Dad reacted to Mom’s treason. They never yelled or fought about anything so I remember nothing traumatic. But I sure do remember holding that kitten.

I do know, for certain, that Dad always took a First Day of School Photo. My favorite is of my sister Jenny and me, in our 1970’s big-collared coats, and I’m holding my favorite Peanuts metal lunchbox. We were smiling, paused on the gravel path on our way to the bus stop. I love that photo. So much expectation. So hopeful. I guess, come to think of it, that I have no proof it was taken on the first day of school. Maybe it was taken on the third. Or the even the fourth?

On second thought, I think I will take a photo tomorrow morning. Because, thirty years from now, no one will know or care that it wasn’t taken on the first day. They’ll just enjoy the results.

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