When You Can’t “Just Take A Half Day” For Your Kids’ School

kids in formal uniform

“Are you coming to the tea party,?” Zacharie asked me at breakfast this morning.

“No, bunny, I have to work,” I replied.

“Is Momma coming?”

“No, she has to work too.”

“Then I’ll have to go in a different group,” he pouted. “You guys never get to come and see me. You didn’t come and see me ski and now you’re not coming to my tea party.”

Today is a super cute day in our family. It’s a formal uniform day at school because they are doing a UNESCO presentation. Every couple of months there is a UNESCO day where presentations are made, assemblies are had, and the parents are invited to the school to be toured around by the kids.

Confession: I have no idea what being a UNESCO school means, although the administration at our school is very proud of the distinction. I chose the school because it was close, and taught french.

As you would expect, these appointments are at 10:30, or 1:15, or some other “middle of the day” time. Granted, that’s when the kids are in school, but it’s also when the parents are at work. Or at least some of the parents are at work, it would seem. My kids are attending a private school for kindergarten and preschool so they can have proper French Immersion education and have access to a full day kindergarten program. That means tuition. To afford the tuition, my wife and I both have to work.

I’m just ranting here. This has nothing to do with anything, but I’d love to take part in the magic that my son produces at school. I’d love to see the smile and pride on his face as he escorts me around the projects they’ve been working on. But I can’t, and it’s frustrating.

I get that teachers have crazy long days and can’t be expected to do everything outside of ‘normal business hours’ to accomodate each individual schedule. It is wonderful that parents are invited to attend and participate in the school day. I just can’t appreciate the luxury of having one working parent while affording private school tuition. I can’t appreciate being able to “take the afternoon off” whenever you want for golf, drinks, or a school assembly.

So I’m whining about it here. I’m whining because I’m disappointed I have to miss this most excellent day where my two boys, in shirt and tie, will have no parent at their class to escort around the displays.

I feel like I’m letting my kids down, and it sucks.

Are School Pictures Obsolete?

I have a couple gigs of videos of my two boys archived on my computer and YouTube and I have over 5000 pictures on Flickr, yet this week we planned ahead for haircuts, picked out a nice outfit and taught my son how to smile nicely for school picture day.

When I was growing up the school picture was the picture of record for the year. In a film camera world, photos would be taken on summer vacation, birthdays and Christmas – that was about it. Photographs were a special event sort of thing, not an every day occurrence.

The school picture was the one Nan would have on her credenza to show off to her friends. We would only see her a couple of times a year – now my sons can Skype their Nana anytime they want.

Photography is no longer a luxury. Digital means we dont have to ration out our picture taking. We can take hundreds or thousands a month and can archive just the dozens that are decent. My son knows how to take pictures using my iPhone and is eager to learn how to use my DSLR – he’s 3.

Yet picture day is still a day circled on the calendar to make sure our kids look their ‘Sunday best.’

20120904 first day of school - 5Why is that?

School picture day should be obsolete. School yearbooks should have faded away in this YouTube era, Facebook should have made high school reunions redundant.

Yet all those still hang around and linger as old timey traditions of the past.

Still, I’ll concede it was fun to get Zacharie ready for picture day this week, but I’m not looking forward to the photo pack prices when the pictures are processed. Can’t we just each pay the photographer a couple of bucks for their time and get an email of the jpg?

Instead we’ll be urged to buy wallets, 3×5, 4×6 and 5×7 images at ridiculous prices. In the 70s and 80s we needed the school photographer to be that intermediary and print off the photos. Now, for less than $100, I can get a photo quality printer to fire off as any images on to paper as I want at the same quality.

I just want a picture of my son as my wallpaper on my iPhone – and I don’t need school picture day to make that happen.

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