Monday, August 22, 2011

The first day of school - Did you picture it right?

Backpacks loaded with new supplies? Check. Just the right clothes? Check. Camera ready for the first-day-of-school  picture? Check. It may be one of the marks of good parenting to get that picture each year.

This year. Thirty years ago. Fifty years ago. It's all the same. My mom was religious in her zeal to capture my sisters and me before we headed off across the field to attend the first day of school at our country school. No doubt we looked better on that one day than we did on any other day of the year than, perhaps, Easter Sunday. Fresh haircuts or perms, new dresses, lunch boxes packed.

My own efforts to record my son's first days of school each year were less consistent.  In the picture I took one year, he has his backpack and is kneeling next to his cocker spaniel.  Barefoot. By the time I remembered to take the picture, it was the end of the day and I had to beg him to put his backpack on. Getting him into shoes again was out of the question.

It's funny that of all the school pictures I took of him, that's the one I remember most. That's often how memory works. We don't remember what happens a thousand times right. Rather, we remember what happens one time wrong. It's often the one time wrong that makes for the memorable story.

My nieces are now taking those first-day-of-school pictures of their kids. This year, one daughter holds up four fingers and the other holds up one finger, indicating fourth and first grades.  The pictures are great. I don't wish my nieces to be as forgetful as I was, but I do wish them pictures that bring up stories and and memories.

Happy first day of school!


  1. My sister, Mary gave me a copy of your book for Christmas. I had no interest at first reading it because I also grew up "country". And what could you possibly write that I didn't already know?

    When my husband, daughter, and I traveled to Ireland, I needed a book for the airplane and there it was....begging me to pick it. Carol, your book was read with pleasure and anticipation at the same time. I cried, laughed, and remembered. Thank you, thank you for being such an incredible writer. It gave me joy and even though my life on the farm in Iowa was so different than yours, it also made me realize that in many ways, it was the same. The mentoring, love and support. My dad, Chris, is Hugo's brother.

    I am thrilled that I found your blog!

  2. Thank you, Sara! What a wonderful thing for you to say. It's been an amazing discovery that we 'country' kids have so much in common. I'm glad my stories made good airplane reading for you. And thanks for dropping in to my blog. David will be happy to hear you've been in touch.