Have I mentioned that I hate Picture Day? I don’t remember it being traumatic as a kid, but as an adult, this school event always has me flummoxed.
On the night before Picture Day, I usually lay out the boys’ outfits from the previous Easter--which they didn’t wear because we always have blizzards on Easter—only to discover the next day that they grew three inches overnight and can no longer wear the Easter outfits they never wore in the first place!
This year, I bought them short-sleeved, button-up shirts with stripes. Yeah. Thrilling. I couldn’t be more excited. Really.
At least I bought the shirts one size up so as not to be caught off guard by a visit from the Miracle Grow Fairy.
But this year, I had a new challenge to tackle. I didn’t have time to make sure Monkey took a bath last night, so I had to get him to take a shower this morning before school. Do all nine-year-old boys loathe bathing? Is it normal for them to come out of the bathroom after a shower just as filthy as they went in? Do other moms besides me have to stand outside the door and remind them to wash their faces and armpits?
I wasted too much time narrating my son’s shower from behind the bathroom door this morning. When he finally finished, I raced upstairs to brush my teeth and get dressed, hollering to Chunky that he needed to get dressed. (His picture day is tomorrow. Yay. I get to do this all over again.)
I’d just starting brushing when the smoke alarm went off. If I was the sort of mom who actually served a home-cooked breakfast in the morning, I might have been worried. But I knew kid-tampering was the only reason the fire alarm would go off on a Tuesday morning at 8:20 AM with me still in PJ’s, brushing my teeth, and already horrendously late for Picture Day.
I ran downstairs, saliva pooling around the toothbrush still in my mouth, and glared up at the smoke alarm. Why do we do this? Why is our first reaction to stare at the screeching device instead of look for fire?
Anyway, as I dragged a chair into the hall and climbed up to push the button, I hollered around my mouthful of toothbrush and drool, “Monkey, what did you do?”
“Nothing,” he muttered.
I silenced the alarm then looked at Monkey, who stood there with hair combed, wearing his Picture Day best, and holding the carbon monoxide detector.
“Why did you unplug the carbon monoxide detector?”
At this point Chunky shows up, completely dressed, but without socks.
“Go get your socks on, Chunky.”
“I threw them downstairs.”
“Then go find them and put them on.”
“Here they are.”
“Those aren’t your socks. Those belong to one of your brother’s friends.” (If I knew which friend, I’d return them.)
Chunky starts bawling. “Where are my socks?”
“FOR THE LOVE OF ALL, go upstairs and get new ones! WE’RE LATE!”
Chunky sobs back up the stairs. I go spit.
Chunky comes back down the stairs holding thick dinosaur slipper socks.
“If you wear those socks, your shoes will be too tight! Get new ones. Never mind! I’ll do it!”
I go up, get his socks, come back down, sit him on the chair I used to reach the alarm, and cram his feet into socks and shoes. He wails the whole time, and Monkey says, “Mom, why are you yelling at Chunky?”
“Because it’s PICTURE DAY, that’s why!”
As we're trotting into school, long after the bell has rung, I notice Monkey buttoning the top button of his shirt.
"Don't do that. You only button the top button if you're wearing a tie."
"But I don't want anyone to see my neck?"
What is that about?
"Sweetie, you will look like a dork if you button the top button."
"But I like it this way."
And that's when I officially gave up. I can’t believe I actual pay for this nightmare. Every year.
The Writer Who Speaks
3 days ago