Wednesday, February 17, 2016

A Seventh Open Letter to Lifetouch School Portraits

Dear Lifetouch School Portraits,

Here we are on letter number seven and I still have never heard back from you. I’m not expecting flowers and candy, but I haven’t even received so much as a short handwritten thank-you note. Nothing. Nada. I’m beginning to think that you guys don’t fully appreciate all the free business advice I’ve given you over the years.

Never fear. Because of my selfless humanitarianism, I will keep giving you helpful advice despite your apparent lack of gratitude.

I’m writing you this time to give you a friendly heads-up regarding spring pictures this year. And also to apologize again. I really don’t mean to keep sabotaging your efforts. Really!

First the heads-up. You are going to want to staff up for retakes again this year, and this time, unlike last spring pictures, it’s not entirely my fault. I don’t know if you’re aware or not, but you scheduled picture day for the Tuesday after our four-day Presidents weekend. At the morning assembly, out of umpteen hundred kids, I saw four that looked like they were dressed for picture day.

I’m not sure if any of you have school-age kids, but the first day back after a long weekend is a terrible time to schedule anything that a parent might need to remember. We’ve just spent every minute of every day with our children, for much, much longer than the natural forty-eight hour weekend window that God barely prepared us for in the first place. And the kids spent much, much longer with their siblings than normal, so they naturally fought and argued for what seemed like three hundred hours straight. And we were right there with them for the whole five hundred-hour argument. It was seven hundred hours of pure hell.

We weren’t planning for, or packing for, or paying attention to what was happening at school on Tuesday. We were just trying to get them there as fast as possible without having to justifiably murder one or all of them.

Now as you know, I couldn’t care less about spring pictures. It has become a source of amusement to me, really, to see how many pounds of unordered pictures and plastic trinkets you will send me of my three boys with sleep hair and food on their faces. You guys are hilarious. But I did see a number of students somewhat upset that their parents had forgotten it was picture day.

I passed one little girl on the way into school who was visibly upset. When I asked what was wrong she said, “Today is picture day and my mom forgot, and the spring pictures are the ones that go in the yearbook!”

I did my best to cheer her up by saying, “Our school has a yearbook?”

Maybe you guys can answer that question. Why do we have a yearbook for elementary school? That seems a lot like a graduation ceremony from preschool – just totally unnecessary. Yearbooks are for high school, and even then, they’re only marginally useful. The only time I ever looked at my high school yearbook after graduation was twenty years later before the reunion to try to remember who everyone was. And I won’t ever let my kids see it, because all the notes from my friends say stuff like “Party hearty with Bacardi!” We were soooo cool.

Anyway, back to the matter at hand. You’re going to have a lot of retakes, and I need to apologize again, because some of them are my fault. We had a very similar art docent incident again this year, as we did last year. Like I told you last year, I don’t schedule these things myself, and I don’t choose the art lessons. It’s all just crazy coincidence, I swear.

Last year we had a very unfortunate chalk and glue art lesson with Son Number Two’s class right before they went to get their pictures taken. This year, I’m happy to report, there was no chalk or glue. It was worse, actually... The art lesson that – again, completely coincidentally – occurred on picture day this year involved securing small pieces of brightly-colored tissue paper to a white background using liquid starch.

As it turns out, when you soak tissue paper in liquid starch, the colors tend to bleed out, creating a multi-hued industrial-strength dye that stains the skin. If you examine the photos you took of Son Number Three’s class yesterday, you’ll probably notice that over half of them had managed to touch at least one spot on their face with their liquid starch/tissue paper dye hands. Sorry about that. We scrubbed as best we could, but chemistry fought back and won. Maybe you’ll have better luck with Photoshop than we did with paper towels.

Also, we learned that starched tissue paper scraps bond almost permanently to second graders’ hair.

Again, very, very sorry.

Regretfully, and again, completely unintentionally,


Copyright © 2016 Marc Schmatjen

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