It was 6th Grade, and I insisted upon doing my own hair for picture day–the oxford and blazer were part of the uniform, but the hair? All mine. I was arguing with my mother about it out the door, and I know what Lane-has-been-crying face looks like–that’s it. I remember standing in line for my picture and realizing that all the other girls, from the neck up, looked like they’d been styled for a wedding. From the neck down, we looked like a Green and White episode of Facts of Life the Middle School Years.
One of the teachers asked me if my mother had forgotten it was picture day. The photographer pulled out a comb and made a tent flap in my bangs so that my eyes would show. I felt a sting of regret. My mother had been right. I should have let her fix my hair. But, I wasn’t going down like that. Oh no. I held my wooby, little head high and said I meant to look that way, and that I liked it. Pride. Proud. Defiant.
When the pictures came home, my mother was grim. It was the only time in my life that she ever asked for retakes. She called the school and asked for retakes.
For what it’s worth, I look back on the day with pride. Still proud. Still defiant. I was twelve, and I had hot rollers. Don’t give a kid hot rollers, if you don’t want her to use them.
It’s also funny how dark the picture is. My hair looks auburn, and my blazer looks black. My hair was strawberry blonde, and my blazer was a medium green.
Today is picture day at Thor’s school. Last night, after telling me he’d like me to go buy him a black suit, white shirt, and fancy tie to wear (far too late in the day to even think of making that happen), and after going through several mental wardrobe changes until we got down to shorts and a polo shirt, he woke up asking for a tie. He had to wear a tie.
It didn’t matter that it didn’t match. It didn’t matter that it was too long. It didn’t matter that he was wearing it with a polo shirt. He. had. to. wear. a. tie.
I put one of B’s ties on him, and it was like turning on the Christmas lights. That kid was proud. Delighted.
He stood in front of the mirror for a long time, declared himself very cool, wetted down and tamed his own cowlick, then went to find his shoes.
Of all the shoes he could choose, he came out of his room with his plaid Vans. Proud. Delighted.
I did point out the problem with mixing a white, blue, and pink striped shirt, with a navy, gold, and olive dotted tie, and red, white, and blue plaid shoes. He said, “I think I look cool.” I thought, “He’s watched too much Doctor Who.” I said, “You are cool.” He said, “You need to call me Mr. B because of the tie.” I said, “All right, Mr. B, grab your backpack and let’s go. Your close-up awaits you.”
When he looks back at today’s picture in 30 years, I want him to be able to say, “That was such a great morning.”
It’s his school picture. He should be happy. We’ll be going to buy him a tie that fits.
He does look cool.