Thursday, September 25, 2014

Just smile and take it

Last week, the little guy had School Picture Day, which was a ritual he sadly missed out on last year in kindergarten, since he had the misfortune of timing one of his (exceedingly rare these days) absences from school due to illness on the day in question. This year went off without a hitch, though, which means that for the little guy it was almost exactly like every other day. My wife made no attempt to dress him up or influence his sartorial choices in any way; she and I discussed how each of us could recall favorite elementary school portraits in which we were wearing goofy t-shirts, and there will be plenty of time for fancy-pants sittings when he's in high school or whatever.

Not sure when we're going to get the proofs, or actually if we are going to get proofs, since we had to pre-select (and of course pre-pay for) a set package of pictures, so maybe the whole envelope of glossies will just show up of its own accord in a few weeks. Picture day's biggest impact was clearly upon my wife and myself as we spent a chunk of the evening before going over the various options and upgrades and trying to figure out how to get ripped off the least.

All of the packages seem to come standard with at least two dozen wallet-sized prints, which seems excessive at best. I'm sure there are still a few grandmas, great-aunts, or great-grandmas who have the kinds of picture frames that hold those 2x3 photos, and are happy to swap them out every year (or generation) but nobody has two dozen of those in their family. In the year 2014 we are steadily moving toward smartphones replacing wallets in the sense of centralizing electronic monetary transactions but I'd say we're well past the point where smartphones have completely replaced wallets as photo storage sites. In the course of our reminiscing my wife and I also both remembered swapping wallet photos with our friends in school, but again that was more with the senior portraits and such. I doubt first graders are doing much of that, though I will dutifully report back if I learn otherwise.

So bad enough that in order to get a few nice-sized suitable-for-framing prints we have to incur the cost of 24 useless micro-photos, but then the photography company breaks out every possible aspect of developing the pictures and makes them optional, meaning to get them you have to pay more. This includes things which, call me imperiously entitled, I would have considered somewhat standard, like retouching. And normally I wouldn't care about retouching all that much, except that as of last Friday the little guy had quite a few bright red scabs around his eyes and nose. Ah well, if the photography company doesn't even out his complexion through digital airbrush magic, at least we'll always remember first grade as "the year one of the little guy's little friends jumped off the top of the playground slide and landed on the little guy's face".

The final punchline was the indication on the order form that the photography company offers discounts for parents with multiple children sitting for pictures. Not for two children, oh no, both of a pair of sibs get charged full price for everything. But if you happen to have three or more children, then there's a slight savings on the third kid's pics. My wife and I did the math and realized that by the time the bino is in kindergarten, the little guy will have moved up to the middle school, and we'll never have all three kids going in for picture day at the same school anyway.

As it stands, presumably there will also be a picture day at some point at the daycare center where the little girl and the bino currently get two days a week of socialization, but considering the big annoyance this week is that those two are expected to bring their own water bottle and supply their own water every day AND bring the water bottle home again every night (for ... reasons? because the center doesn't want to take responsibility for washing and storing the bottles, and can't just buy a crate of tiny disposable dixie cups at the warehouse store?) I kinda don't want to think about the pains that said picture day will bring. All in due time, I suppose.

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