It was picture day yesterday, which naturally meant that Ruby had a huge tantrum before bed on Wednesday night in which she pulled out the braids I’d carefully done in her hair –and then woke up with a red blotchy rash all over her face. She wears a uniform, so the clothes weren’t going to make a difference either.
At a loss, I hastily redid her crazy curly hair, pinned it up with a couple of bobby pins, smeared some cortisone cream on her face, gave her a dose of allergy meds, called the pediatrician, and pulled the picture form out of her backpack to check off the box I’d previously scoffed at: “$10 for facial retouching/blemish removal.”
Then I paused for a moment and remembered the SchoolPhotoGate issue of 2014: Last year at Ruby’s old school, there was a moderate scandal at the unrequested retouching of the school photos. Parents posted side-by-side comparisons of their normal-looking kids and the badly airbrushed school photo versions – in many cases, cheeks had been pinkened, eyes had been made bluer, skin tones had been evened out, scars had been removed. One mom even claimed that her son had had a missing tooth Photoshopped back in.
Nobody wants that, or at least none of the parents I know wants that. We all want a snapshot of exactly how our kid looks at that moment in time: missing teeth, messy hair, stained shirts, scars and all.
Ruby’s second grade picture – the unairbrushed version – shows her smirking with flyaway blonde curls and a huge black hair bow that she could not be talked out of. And I love it. It does not show a perfect model child, but it shows 7-year-old Ruby in all of her slapdash glory.
And so I quietly slid the photo order form back into her backpack without selecting the $10 add-on that makes your kid look like something other than your kid. I let her school picture be taken with frizzy pinned-up braids and white cream on her face. It probably will not be her best picture ever (although the rash had faded significantly by the time I dropped her off), but it will at least be one to remember, one where I can look back in years to come and think: Oh, God, she was just so perfectly 8 years old.