White Gumballs

She walked through my front door and right into my kitchen and slapped a few photos of my cute nieces and nephews on the side of my fridge. “Oh?..Well…um.. Thank you.” I said. I’m not quite sure where she even found magnets.  I never have anything on the side of my fridge except maybe a calendar.   I didn’t ask for them but I get them.  It’s my duty as an aunt, sister, daughter-in-law..whatever.  I gently took them off the side of the fridge to look at them and confirmed that they were the standard predictable, dull  school photos.  [thinking ] “Wow? Not much has changed with the old school photo except they are getting craz-eee and mixing it up with some funky background choices? Why does she look constipated? What the hell is he doing with his mouth…he looks like he is getting ready to brush his front teeth.  What the heck?  Is he staring at the photographers forehead?  Where is he looking? Seriously?  This company robbed my sister-in-law.  These photos are not good and they are adorable children! ”   [My plan] I’ll put them right here on the counter and then put them in the photo basket later. That’s where school photos go.  They nose dive into a basket…never to be touched again. It’s the basket of “I feel guilty if I throw it away but I don’t really want it.”  I’m pretty sure every home has one.  If it’s not a basket at your house it’s probably a drawer or closet or something?

Apparently, my mother-in-law has a passion for school photos.  Who knew? Personally, I find them horrible.  There was a moment in time when school photos were in many instances the only way to document a child’s age and awkward physical appearances but those days are no longer.  If a school photo is the best picture you have of your child….there is a problem.  I don’t know about other mom’s but I take pictures with my camera and my cell phone.  I have so many pictures on my computer that I have organized them by months…not years.  You see..we live in a digital world now and if you take a bad picture.  Well?  There is good news!!!!  You can delete it and take another.  Brilliant! I have approximately 568ish photos of each child at every developmental stage in their life.  So?  When I get the little package in the fall that  the school photographer will be here on Thursday….I don’t do a thing and I feel damn good about it!  In fact, I get a sense of euphoria and I feel like Supermom! “You can’t trick me into those horrific photos…I can’t be fooled…I’m..da da da daaaaa…SUPERMOM..the smartest mother in the world.”  I fell for the scam a few times.  I bought the smallest package possible. (1) 8×10, (2) 5×7’s and 12 wallets.  I wrote a check for 36 dollars per child and when I got them…I thought they were awful… just as I imagined they would be.  I forced each grandparent to take the 5×7’s and threw all the rest into my basket. I mentally beat myself up for a week on why I wasted my money on those pictures?  I was so mad at myself.  Geez, I knew that would be the end result yet I bought them anyway?  It’s the same feeling I would get as a kid after I put my quarter into a bubble gum machine.  You know the machine.  The one with the giant gum balls… and just before I would open that little silver door I would say a little prayer in my head “please be a color…hopefully it’s red…but I’ll take any color”…then you lift the door and…. it’s white.  Of course it’s white.  It’s always white.  Great?  That was my last quarter.  I guess I’ll chew this big ass piece of nasty white gum.  I want my quarter back.  [sigh]

So anyway, my mother in-law found the school photos on the counter and put them  back on the refrigerator.  What the hell?  Alright.  That was bold.  Fine.  I left them there.  For 2 long weeks I left them on the side of the fridge.  Believe me..I noticed because I don’t like clutter at all. They were not my kids or my clutter and it bothered me. Then…I couldn’t take it anymore and I put them in their new  home …the photo basket.   Ahhhhh…a clean fridge again.

All was fine and dandy until my mother-in-law came back for the next visit.  We were chit chatting about nothing really and then she glanced over my shoulder at the side of my fridge.  Complete disappointment all over her face.  “What?”  I inquired.  “Where are the school pictures that I put on your fridge?” she asked in a joking way.  “Hey?  I left them there for 2 weeks but I had to take them down.  Don’t worry.  I have them.  They are in my photo basket.”  She rolled her eyes.  Then I felt the need to explain.  “Look!  My kids aren’t even on my fridge.  Settle down.”  then she retaliated with “Speaking of your kids…I never get their school pictures???”  The answer I gave her took a solid 10 years off her life..instantly.  “I don’t buy school pictures.”  Dead silence followed by a gasp and a long drawn out “Whaaaaaaat?”  Her reaction made me giggle a little.  It was as if I robbed her of a grandparent right.  “I’m sorry.  I don’t buy them.  They are expensive.  Nobody wants them…not even me…and they are usually horrible.   It’s a triple wammy!”   I smiled like I just revealed a secret.  She shook her head in disbelief.  Then she got herself together and sat down. She wasn’t quite sure what to do with me but in my head “I’m…da..da…da.daaaa…Supermom!  I have defied all laws of motherhood and beat the system”.   She gathered her thoughts and all that came out of her mouth was “You?  You…you are un-American.[Hey?  Wait a minute.  Un-american? I love this country]  Every mother on earth buys school photos.  What is the matter with you? [ well? There is a lot wrong with me but this is the one thing I have got figured out] You mean to tell me..you don’t have any school photos of your children?”  I answered in a calm voice because I was positive that I’m doing the right thing here.  “Nanny.  It’s a true fact. I do not buy school photos but..[I lean in close and whisper the last part] every year they send home a proof.  It’s a second chance to order the pictures.”  “yeah….and?”  She says as she rushes me to get to the point of my story.  “Well..I have saved all of these proofs and…because I love you [dramatic pause] and I know you have a passion for horrible photos [another dramatic pause].. you may have them if you wish.”  [giggling in my head]  Now she is confused and a little excited that she might actually get some school photos. “What?  Huh?  Are you offering me school pictures?”  “Well….yes?  Well? Sort of” I answer “.The ones I have kind of say PROOF across the picture.”  The face she made after I said this made me laugh.  It was a pissed off, sad, disbelief face.  “That’s freaking great.  I will carry around photos of my grandchildren that say PROOF across their face.”  I giggle as I answer. “You can.  Or?  You can pick some from my digital collection?  But I personally think the proofs make a better story.  It’s all about the proofs, ya know?”  She walked away dreaming about the school photos that she wished she had and I walked away with a smile.  I’m not spending my money on any more white gumballs damn it!

I added an adorable little thumb at the bottom of this post for my friends who read this blog and are too damn lazy to comment !   Thumbs up if “you like” what you read and thumbs down if you think it “kinda sucked”! 

17 thoughts on “White Gumballs

  1. Yep. Racket. I have much more to say – none of it nice – but it’s late and I’m tired. Oooooh, I really don’t like school picture photographers.

  2. Wait until you get to Senior pictures then there is pressure..formal and casual pics..with props or without. And very expensive! But you have a while until that happens. Lol

  3. Anne, We will have to put our heads together and come up with a plan for these companies that send home the photos. That is just wrong. Of course the kids will want to buy them if they have to go through the humility of bringing back all the pictures and announce that “my mom doesn’t want pictures of me.” It’s like sending your kid to school with a chocolate bar and asking him not to eat it. wrong and sneaky. Thanks for comments Anne.

  4. Once again so true and relevant!! I try my best to get out of buying school photos! The schools we are at now send home the entire package of printed out photos (no proofs, it’s the real deal). The photo company relies on the honor system. They ask parents to write the check and send it back to school if they want the prints or if you decline you have to send the whole packages of prints back to school. This sucks me in because my kids like their photos and come in the door and say “Mom here are my school pictures, you are going to buy them right”? “You like them right”? And of course i say “Yes, I love your picture and will buy them”. I can’t imagaine making my kids take back their whole package of prints and handing it back to their teacher if they really like their photo. I don’t frame them or give them out to family but keep them to show my kids when they grow up…if the cheap things will last that long!!! BTW I love how you compared school photos to white gum balls! Brillant!! I also hated the pink colored gum balls too!!!! Yuck! : )

  5. Now that I have stood my ground you bring up an excellent form of bribery. Now what? mmm? I can’t go back to buying them. I guess I can still bribe with the proofs? lol

  6. Mrs. Doherty, once again I sat totally imagining this whole conversation going down between you and your MIL, hilarious. Just so you are aware, I will still buy the school photos so I can use them as collaterall to get what I need from my kids later on in life, for instance, “Clean your room or I will get that picture from 2nd grade, you know that one that you gave yourself a haircut, you have no teeth in front and you dressed yourself that day, remember, yeah, that one, get to work!!”

  7. School photos are the worst! Part of the reason I started doing what I do. I will be taking the photo shoots on the road to CT this spring and we’ll hook Nanny up with some real photos of her gorgeous grandkids. :-)

  8. I love it!!! I really find school pictures hilarious so I buy them when I can but that’s for my own sight humor and to stick on my families refrigerators (NEVER). My favorite one was a prepay and Franklin had his tongue sticking between his missing front teeth. They had him say “yessss” and he has a lisp. The backgrounds are ALL awful. I may one day have them all ironed onto a quilt for each of their wives. Lucky ladies!

  9. Awesome advice for the future! I tend not to like staged photos anyway. So, come time for school pictures in a few years, I won’t be a sucker I won’t be a sucker! Ha ha! Love your stories & story-telling!

  10. I think you have just liberated me from buying another terrible school picture! And, I just had to comment because of the last line. thanks for the laugh this morning.

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