As you can see, one of these children is clearly more relaxed and natural in front of the camera than the other. My daughter is sporting a natural smile - she had probably just said something goofy to the photographer, and was laughing along with him/her. My son, however, not only had messy hair, but looks as if he is in actual physical pain. No doubt, he was thinking about how he would look in his photo, and therefore he looked nervous and forced. He gets that from me (the nerves AND the messy hair), as you can clearly see from the series of my own school photos through the years.
Yes, here we have the whole timeline of embarrassing school photos of me, beginning in roughly 1973 and continuing through my high school yearbook photo from 1986 (probably technically taken in 1985). Bad teeth, bad hair, bad posture, bad fashion...I went through it all, and I have the photos to prove it. And now, so do my children.
What I have learned from these photos of myself is that I need to get my hair cut a lot more often, that I should never wear turtlenecks, and that popped collars and pearls actually work for me. Also, I did eventually grow into the teeth, and in fact, that toothy smile became one of my most complimented features.
I have no doubt that my children's school photos will also become part of a whole series chronicling their growth and change over the years. I look forward to a year or two from now, when those little baby teeth are replaced with a gaping hole and then some oversized teeth, which they - like me - will eventually grow into. I look forward to seeing those baby faces maturing into older children and finally young adults. I look forward to the memories these photos will evoke - deep-seated memories of the funny quirks of their childhood that will eventually vanish, the squeaky youthful voices that deepened with maturity, the funny outlooks on life that were more profound than they knew. These photos may not bring back their own memories of childhood, but they will surely bring back mine.
I love knowing that those memories will be there, and I love capturing these moments in time. Childhood is so brief, and so lovely. It's hard to remember your own; remembering theirs is a gift beyond price.