School’s Out

My son: “Did you buy the yearbook this year?”

Me: “There was a yearbook this year???”

Apparently so… made of what pictures or memories I don’t know. I would have bought it out of curiosity alone but I know we won’t need a book to remember the 2020-21 school year.

I’m so fucking glad it’s over. I’m so proud of my son for making it through a 5th grade of mostly virtual instruction. 5th grade is where school starts getting real. It was intense.

The first day that he went back hybrid/in-person he came home with marks on his face where a mask had been for 6+ hours. “THAT WAS SO FUN!!!” he announced, an enormous grin outlined by mask marks. He told there was no talking during lunch, how they had had to walk up to a screen to engage his teacher and virtual classmates, and how he went to music class with one other kid and tapped out beats on their laps. My face fell. My God, if THIS was SO FUN then this year school year seriously SUCKED.

So first, let’s please give it up for the teachers who made a truly hard situation work through tenacity, creativity and love for our children. 👏🏻❤️👏🏻❤️ (Thank you Mrs. Risinger!!!). Our gratitude truly cannot be measured. This was an impossible ask for students and teachers alike and I celebrate you all!

I did some pivoting too. Early last fall I contacted the principal and school pictures, as we knew them, could not happen. Many of us send these photos to our relatives for fridge fodder… maybe I could drive from home to home and spend a few minutes getting a portrait? It seemed safe if we kept it outdoors and brief. I circulated sign up sheets and gave it a whirl.

If you’ve ever wondered what resilience looks like, just look into these faces.

Here’s what happened, a handful of it anyway. Sometimes kids pulled their own ideas (or dogs, or bikes) into their picture and I loved that. Perfectly combed hair and stuff like shoes wasn’t too important. It was a good document of what it felt like – isolated but familiar and joyful.

If you would like to make portraits like these in the fall for your family, school, day care or play group, reach out! I love the classic school portrait and would never want to replace that the grey or laser background. But there’s always room to expand and we can never capture too many portraits of our kids before they’re all grown up, at least in my humble opinion!

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