I’m the parent with that kid. I never thought I would be, but here I am. And I’m sorry your kid’s class photo turned out so wonky. My son is the one who looks like sitting there on that bench is utter and complete torture. He’s not looking at, or even smiling at the camera. There are probably dried tear stains on his adorable little cheeks. The teacher probably looks pretty stressed too. I guess this apology is for her as well.
So, this is an apology to let you know that it was probably really hard for my son to walk into the gym on picture day. He knows that the gym is for gym class, and the picture day set-up has probably thrown him off. It’s set up in a strange way with a strange person with a camera, all the gym benches are out of place, and dozens of kids are milling about in what is obviously not gym class. He’s been told what’s going on, but new information and new situations out of the ordinary sometimes don’t compute.
This is the dialogue that runs silently through my brain every year when pictures come home. I rehearse it in my head in case one of the other kids’ parents complain about how that kid ruined the class photo, so I have an apology locked and loaded.
I’m an autism mom and that’s what we do. We’re always on the defense, and you don’t know our lives. You don’t know that my son is a camera ham with a brilliant smile when he’s on his own terms, that crowds and strange new situations freak him out. Just walking into class every day is a major accomplishment for a little boy who cried at morning drop off for the first 6 months when he first started school.
You may have one wonky class photo of your kid’s class; I now have three.
It is hard for him to sit for photos even on the best of days, with family, at home. I can’t tell you how many blurred photos there are of him on my cell phone because unless he’s totally into being a camera ham that day, he just won’t stay still. I’m sure his teacher and Educational Assistants did the best they could to ease him into the situation and not let him run screaming from the room. I’m sorry if he’s the one crying in the corner of the photo, struggling to get out of the teacher’s grasp while she smiles painfully into the camera lens.
But what can I say? Picture day is hard for my son. And I’m sorry that it ruined your picture.*
* This did not happen to us this year. His photos just arrived from the school, his smile was brilliant and glorious! I’m going to go ahead and tuck this speech into my back pocket for next year, for when photo day rolls around again.