Sep
19
2014

How To Get Super School Photos

* or at least not terrible ones

How To Get Super School Photos

How to take great school pictures

The back-to-school ads have given way and the commercials for Swiss Chalet's Festive Special are waiting in the wings. Most kids have been back into the swing of things at school for a few weeks now, and in our region the school photographer is making the rounds. Every year on school picture day my children head off to school looking reasonably tidy, with me waving good-bye at the bus stop thinking, "Yep. This is our year. This will be the year they hit the mark."

A few weeks later they’ll come home and pull crisp white envelopes from their backpacks and proudly show me their school photos. Photos I paid for.

And once again I will realize that this year? This year will not be our year.

So in the interest of preventing our children from becoming a horrible Facebook meme — perhaps from even appearing next to that dude with the laser cat in the "Horrible Pictures" line-up — I’ve prepared some school photo day tips.

Bad School Photos

Don't let this years picture be next year's Facebook meme

Tips for Great School Photos

 

Practice Makes Good Enough

Practice photo poses at home. Showing your child how to smile at a stranger may not keep him safe on the playground, but it’ll pay off come School Picture Day and Christmas card season.

Set it and (Don't) Forget it

Write down the date as soon as you receive notice from the school. I can’t tell you the number of times my son has been photographed in a skull and cross-bones bathing suit and rubber boots simply because I didn’t mark the date on the calendar. (Note: Three.)

Don't be a Lunchbox Hero

Send a tidy lunch. Picture Day is no time for marinara meatball surprise in the thermos, parents. Forgo your usual culinary lunchtime treats. No hand-carved radish roses or pinwheel sandwiches today. Keep it dry and keep it tidy. Crumble-free crackers or soft pieces of bread are a good bet. Actually, it may be best to “forget” to pack your child a lunch altogether that day. Offer a big breakfast instead. Bonus: gaunt, pale cheeks in photos are flattering to all body types.

Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures

Before children assemble for pictures, sign in at school as snack-parent. Find your child’s locker, then move two or three lockers to the right. In that locker you will no doubt find someone's school gear including a hoodie and a lunch box. Tear one sleeve off the hoodie, and steal the lunch box. Pro tip: hoodie sleeve can be used to wipe down fingerprints left at scene.

Relax; Your Kids (Probably) Aren't the Worst

I’m a firm believer of the “If you’re not the worst, then you’re pretty much almost sorta the best” principle. It works like this: if in a class of say, 25 kids, mine aren’t wearing the most unflattering assortment of contrasting patterns, or have the most unkempt hair, or sport the most mustard on their t-shirts, then we’re in the clear. No one’s going to remember my son as being the standout with grass stains up his front and half a Band-Aid from his skinned knee if another kid in that year’s picture is missing one sleeve of his hoodie and looks royally pissed off because his lunch was stolen.

Adapt to Your Environment

If you’re lucky and your school offers a green screen “choose your own background” option, request “pig pen” or “mud pit.” This will preemptively quell the “What the hell is on his face?” questions you’ll no doubt get from well-meaning relatives who clearly never had male children nor ate mustard.

Finally, if — despite all your best efforts to starve, vandalize, and bribe your way to successful photos — cherish the ones you get. They’re a clear snapshot of who your child was that very day, and that is a gift to be treasured. If that means he or she is wearing a superhero themed pajama top, mismatched bedroom sneakers, and a hat they took from the bowling alley lost-n-found, then so be it.

Unlike the hat, the photo won’t smell like beer and urinal cakes.



Do you have a teenager? Visit my "Parenting a Teen" blog The Panic Button Years, and join me for the ride, won't you?

I've also written about Why I'm Glad My Daughter Hates Household Chores and Why You Shouldn't Follow Your Kids on Social Media.

- See more at: http://www.yummymummyclub.ca/blogs/jeni-marinucci-panic-button-years/20140915/my-daughter-refuses-to-carry-a-purse#sthash.mdy88jyY.dpuf


Do you have a teenager? Visit my "Parenting a Teen" blog The Panic Button Years, and join me for the ride, won't you?

I've also written about Why I'm Glad My Daughter Hates Household Chores and Why You Shouldn't Follow Your Kids on Social Media.

- See more at: http://www.yummymummyclub.ca/blogs/jeni-marinucci-panic-button-years/20140915/my-daughter-refuses-to-carry-a-purse#sthash.mdy88jyY.dpuf

This teenage rebellion stuff is going to do me in. I may start carrying smelling salts; in fact, I think there's a pocket in my purse just right for that.

Image Source: FreeImages.com


Do you have a teenager? Visit my "Parenting a Teen" blog The Panic Button Years, and join me for the ride, won't you?

I've also written about Why I'm Glad My Daughter Hates Household Chores and Why You Shouldn't Follow Your Kids on Social Media.

- See more at: http://www.yummymummyclub.ca/blogs/jeni-marinucci-panic-button-years/20140915/my-daughter-refuses-to-carry-a-purse#sthash.mdy88jyY.dpuf

This teenage rebellion stuff is going to do me in. I may start carrying smelling salts; in fact, I think there's a pocket in my purse just right for that.

Image Source: FreeImages.com


Do you have a teenager? Visit my "Parenting a Teen" blog The Panic Button Years, and join me for the ride, won't you?

I've also written about Why I'm Glad My Daughter Hates Household Chores and Why You Shouldn't Follow Your Kids on Social Media.

- See more at: http://www.yummymummyclub.ca/blogs/jeni-marinucci-panic-button-years/20140915/my-daughter-refuses-to-carry-a-purse#sthash.mdy88jyY.dpuf

This teenage rebellion stuff is going to do me in. I may start carrying smelling salts; in fact, I think there's a pocket in my purse just right for that.

Image Source: FreeImages.com


Do you have a teenager? Visit my "Parenting a Teen" blog The Panic Button Years, and join me for the ride, won't you?

I've also written about Why I'm Glad My Daughter Hates Household Chores and Why You Shouldn't Follow Your Kids on Social Media.

- See more at: http://www.yummymummyclub.ca/blogs/jeni-marinucci-panic-button-years/20140915/my-daughter-refuses-to-carry-a-purse#sthash.mdy88jyY.dpuf

This teenage rebellion stuff is going to do me in. I may start carrying smelling salts; in fact, I think there's a pocket in my purse just right for that.

Image Source: FreeImages.com


Do you have a teenager? Visit my "Parenting a Teen" blog The Panic Button Years, and join me for the ride, won't you?

I've also written about Why I'm Glad My Daughter Hates Household Chores and Why You Shouldn't Follow Your Kids on Social Media.

- See more at: http://www.yummymummyclub.ca/blogs/jeni-marinucci-panic-button-years/20140915/my-daughter-refuses-to-carry-a-purse#sthash.mdy88jyY.dpuf

Parenting a teen? Visit my Panic Button Years and join me for the ride, won't you?

I've also written about Why You Should Give Your Teenager the Freedom to be an Idiot, and Your Teen and Their Friends.

Sep
02
2014

What's Keeping Your Teenager From Quality Sleep

Why Blue Light Isn't a "Special" At Bedtime

What's Keeping Your Teenager From Quality Sleep

One thing I loved to do when I was a teenager was sleep. Oh dear God, how I longed for the sweet warm bliss that was my waterbed. I'd put my home-mix cassette with 25 back-to-back plays of KISS's "Beth" on my ghetto-blaster and snooze under my Eaton's duvet sleep-set until at least noon every weekend.

Remember waterbeds?

Remember cassettes and KISS and "Beth" and ghetto-blasters and Eaton's? Remember sleep?

My teenager loves to sleep the same way I did, although this time it's on an Ikea daybed, with The Arctic Monkeys crooning on an iPhone, and she's tucked under 300 thread-count imported sheets. I've talked in the past about how extra sleep is not only acceptable behavior for teens, it's now being touted as being so important that perhaps we should structure school days around it for older kids.

That smell is not the dog; it's vindication!

More news on teens and sleep came onto the horizon this week, when The Washington Post reported findings of a sleep study regarding teenagers and how they respond to the light emanating from electronic devices. It's the "blue light" the researchers are most concerned with, because blue light prevents the full efficacy of one's melatonin, the "sleep" hormone. I know my daughter used to fall asleep with her iPod (and then her iPhone) close by her head, until the threat of growing an additional head scared her for a while. But even after cautioning about needing double-neck holes in her American Eagle t-shirts I would still occasionally find her in too-close proximity to electronic devices. I was right, but I lack all science street cred. But The Washington Post doesn't:

"Ordinarily, the pineal gland, a pea-size organ in the brain, begins to release melatonin a couple of hours before your regular bedtime. The hormone is no sleeping pill, but it does reduce alertness and make sleep more inviting. However, light — particularly of the blue variety — can keep the pineal gland from releasing melatonin, thus warding off sleepiness. You don’t have to be staring directly at a television or computer screen: If enough blue light hits the eye, the gland can stop releasing melatonin. So easing into bed with a tablet or a laptop makes it harder to take a long snooze, especially for sleep-deprived teenagers who are more vulnerable to the effects of light than adults."

Most people (read: adults) understand that when their bodies are tired they should sleep. That's because we're not idiots like teenagers. (I'm kidding. Just their brain parts are idiots.) And luckily, for most adults, regular sleep can be achieved relatively easily. However, for teenagers who play havoc with their circadian rhythms by completely disregarding natural light/dark cycles in favor of more enjoyable pursuits like duckface selfie marathons and Netflix binge watches, falling asleep doesn't always correspond with what the rest of the world expects of them, like answering questions and walking upright. Throw in a teenager's rapidly growing brain and delight in pissing off their in-bed-by-9:30-we're-so-goddamn-tired parents, and you've got a disaster on your hands. But wait; there's more! The sleep issue for teens is exacerbated by blue light and those kids who sleep with or near electronic devices which are powered up are, well, they're screwed. Sleep researcher Steven Lockley of Harvard Medical School says:

“Teenagers have all the same risks of light exposure, but they are systematically sleep-deprived because of how society works against their natural clocks. Asking a teenager to get up at 7 a.m. is like asking me to get up at 4 a.m.”

I get it, Steven. I've been up at 4 a.m. and it wasn't prett...I can't say any more in accordance with my plea bargain agreement.

So when teenagers use glowing electronics — particularly those which emit high levels of blue light like tablets, Smart phones, and laptops — the few hours of sleep they do get is inferior quality. So how do parents (hands up — who's in bed long before their teen?) control the use of items when they're already turned in for the night? I'd like to suggest sitting your teen down and having them read The Washington Post article as well as corresponding cited studies. Then maybe a question and answer panel and a small report.

That's what I'd like to see but the reality is that teenagers often  a.) don't believe you; b.) don't care anyway; and c.) Screw you, sleep study man; where are the car keys I want Dairy Queen.

We have a "turn in" policy for iPhones and iPods after a certain time at night, but the laptop is often used for homework after I've punched out of parenting duties for the day. But people who sort of know what they're talking about suggest I get my ass out of bed and shut that shit down. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommend later school start times, and the academy believes that a later start (and thereby more sleep) will help lower teenagers risk for things like obesity and depression. And maybe better grades:  “Sleep is important for learning, memory, brain development, health,” Lockley said. “We’re systematically sleep-depriving kids when their brains are still developing, and you couldn’t design a worse system for learning.”

Looks like we're moving to a no blue-light rule in my house for the two hours preceding bedtime, in order to ward of some bad juju and maybe raise those grades a few percentages. Parents may want to rethink computers in the bedroom, especially if their kids seem to have trouble being fully present and aware in class when previous to adolescence they had been.  

And here I had blamed any less-than-stellar school grades on our lack of Baby Mozart DVDs during the formative years.

Image Source: FreeImages.com


Do you have a teenager? Visit my "Parenting a Teen" blog The Panic Button Years, and join me for the ride, won't you?

I've also written about Encouraging Independent Sleep Habits and Awkaward Moments While Parenting Teens.

How's it going with your teenager? Have a question or topic you'd like explored? Leave me a note in the comments!