Awkward Stance: First Day of School Pictures are Awful

No more. Please no more.

I can’t endure obsessive displays of “Pinterest Creativity” anymore. Flowers in your daughter’s hair. Holding up the chalkboard with the date and grade. A t-shirt with Class of 2031 (or some distant year). Forced thumbs up and smile. Posing in front of  school signs, their uninterested siblings, hungover bus drivers, while wearing a backpack two sizes too big for them featuring the Disney character flavor of the month…

It’s that time of year again: Social Media’s Annual “Keepin’ Up with the Joneses” Back to School Student Picture Contest (or SMAKUWTJBTSSPAC)!

Suburbia, is this what we have come to?

Gratuitous afternoon chardonnay pours, block parties, cookouts, local brew and wine fests, travelling youth sports, bridge, poker nights, community pools, scenic trails, ornament exchanges, book clubs…weren’t enough? We have to prance our kids out like trophies to see who will post the cutest “Back to School!” picture to Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram feeds, all while fawning over them with Likes/Loves/Shares and making annoyingly mommy remarks like, “Stop growing up so fast!”

Ugh. They grow up normal. Like the rest of them. Unless your kid has the Robin Williams’ Jack condition.

But why?

Before you call me a grumpy old childless jerk (father in his 30s here), step back and think about WHY you’re doing what you’re doing? Here are common retorts to my rude, crusty criticism:

“It’s a special moment to capture!”

“I’m documenting their school years! They go by too fast!”

“It’s how the grandparents and family members see the kids!”

“But they were just walking out the door when I took the picture! And yes, they love holding a chalkboard.”

“I need to prove I’m more creative than the parent next door!”

“If I don’t I’ll be shunned by society! They’ll mock me! They’ll torture me! They’ll call Child Services!”

The last two are closest to reality.

I truly ask why you’re shoving your kid in front of the camera for your social media feeds. Perhaps you want to hold on to these moments for posterity sake. That’s nice…then print out the picture and toss it in the kid’s memory box.

I’d love for a parent to admit they are doing it because if they didn’t, fellow parents would question the quality of their parenting (which is how we judge parenting now, right? What they post on Da ‘Gram  – that’s what the kids call it). Or because they want to receive the most Likes/Retweets/Shares/Et Cetera than the next parent, proving they out-mom’ed/dad’ed everyone else.

Is it wrong to do this? Absolutely not. Is it a little insane? Absolutely. To capture what a kid looks like and that indelible smile on their fresh faces before realizing middle school is a drag is a fine endeavor so you can immortalize the moment, but to rush for props, scream and holler in the morning as they get ready, and snap thirty pictures to grab JUST the right one…? In-sane.

It’s a Social problem

Like most activities on social media, we’ve pushed ourselves to the brink of crying because the world we need to project and show has to be perfect and upright (yeah, I know social media has a few positives). Nothing to see here, world. Everything is fine and dandy in the Jones house. We have our excited little scholars ready to go!

The obsession comes from the obsession of clicks and likes, because, let’s face it, we are human beings and we want to be liked. But what happens when that desire to be liked spirals into a maniacal addiction of showing only our best selves at all times. No flaws, no issues. Just perfection, which I find ironic.

The irony lies in one irrefutable fact: the beauty and greatness of humanity are rooted in our flaws and misfortunes. Take … anything in history as examples. From those, our spirit and compassion thrive, our innovation is pushed to further brinks, and our mental fortitude hardened. That’s when we become truly closer as people, wouldn’t you say? Let the flaws fly, I say.

So for the parents that missed our photo contest (aka SMAKUWTJBTSSPAC), who gives a rat’s behind? You saved yourself the aggravation.

And if you really want to capture that moment for the memory box or the grandparents, then store it, text it, mail it with a frame because those are private, special moments. Cherish them for what they are. Don’t cherish them because they brought a lot of attention to you.



Writer’s Note: I’m actually not that bent out of shape about SMAKUWTJBTSSPAC. I just hope you laughed a little. For all my friends and family guilty of this activity, please know I have judged you mightily.

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