My daughter held up an enormous pink T-shirt, big enough for the two of us plus the dog, and asked, “What do you think?”
I never know how to respond to these kinds of questions because I never know what my kids are talking about. So I answered honestly, if cautiously: “It’s big. And pink.”
And then dared to ask, “What’s it for?”
“It’s for Briley’s first day of school,” my daughter replied.
I looked at the shirt, then looked at my petite little 5-year-old grandgirl, then back at the shirt again.
“It might be a little … big for her,” I offered hesitantly.
Beth just laughed. “It’s not to wear,” she said. “I mean, not really. I’m going to have ‘Class of 2029’ put on the front and will take her picture wearing it on the first day of school from kindergarten until she’s a senior.”
I tried to hide my relief. “Well! Haha! In that case, what a great idea! That will really be cute.”
And I suppose it will be, assuming Beth is more organized than I ever was as a young mother. The idea of keeping track of one shirt, to be pulled out once a year for 13 years, well, let’s just say it’s amazing I managed not to lose any of my children over the course of their growing-up years.
At least these “first day of school” photos will match the pictures she and her sister-in-law are taking of their babies on regular intervals.
Of course, when babies arrive, you take pictures of them every day, then every week, and then every month, and it eventually dwindles down to once a year or so.
But these days, I understand, “milestone” photos are all the rage. So you buy cute little placards that are labeled with things like “One Month Old!” or “Two Years!” or whatever and use these to photographically document the timeline of the child’s life.
Or, as is the case with my newest grandboy, there is a prop that is supposedly destined to be included in these photographs from the time Zeke was born last January until – well, I’m not sure what the end date is for these things. Maybe when he gets married, or has a baby of his own. Anyway, there is a stuffed elephant that is tucked beside the baby in all these pictures, which I assume is designed to be a helpful indicator of how much he has grown from one photo to the other.
I like all these ideas, I really do.
Even though it seems that nobody ever actually prints these pictures out and places them in an album, which is how I always thought photographs work. Instead, they just carry them around in their virtual album on their phone, and if you ask, they scroll around for 20 minutes trying to get the “six weeks” picture to compare to the “eight weeks” picture or whatever.
Not that I have any room to talk about albums either, as I was never one of those moms who lovingly updated the “Baby Book” with photos and sweetly written narratives about milestones such as “First Smile!” or “First Steps!” or whatever.
I’ve got a stack of blurry, poorly exposed photographs tossed in a trunk down in the basement. Somewhere. One of these days, at least theoretically, I’ll go through these pictures and label them, organize them and sort them into albums.
None of them, so far as I remember, are of “first day of school.” And I can tell you for sure that there are no “One Month Old!” or “Eight Weeks Old!” photos … and even if there were, there would not be a special shirt or a stuffed animal or anything else showing up in more than one consecutive photograph. That’s just not how we rolled back in the day.
Kids do things differently now, and I’m fine with that. So to all those young parents out there, take all the photos you want. Grandparents, snap away to capture every moment of time in the lives of your grandchildren.
Me – I’ll just reflect on my memories.