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Picture Day


By Chris Garlington

I was going through pictures of my son the other day, meaning I was thumb-scrolling on my cell phone through a nearly infinite collection of perfect portraits of his hands.

He hates getting his picture taken. I have exactly seven blurry snapshots of his face: one is half-obscured by his Sasquatchian paw; the rest are tiny vignettes of the inside of his mouth, the cover of a book, his shirt pulled over his nose, and a single unadulterated head-shot in which it is painfully obvious he's farting.

My only hope has been Picture Day. And as I am a diligently organized parent with a smartphone, a computer, a notebook, a day-timer, and a watch, I never know it's Picture Day until Sasquatch is getting out of the car, whereupon he will lean in, as if to say something sweet.

Imagine this, fellow parents, you doomed individuals like myself, sitting in your car in front of the school, serenaded by the first period alarm, illuminated in the glare of the gym teacher who has parking duty that day and really, really wants to get back inside: my son, framed in the window with the sun behind him like a halo, his "Legalize It" T-shirt hanging in a stained, pouchy slouch, a tiny smear of grape jelly trailing off toward his ear, the wild fringe of his unruly Aboriginal dome; imagine my horror when he informs me: "Oh yeah, it's Picture Day."

Merde! Fantastic. I will add this new abomination to the growing aggregation of legendary school portraits wherein Junior appears ...

- to have been dragged backwards through a bush
- to be under anesthesia
- over-caffeinated
- suffused with pure, unadulterated evil

I could scrapbook a three-inch brick of Disney pictures wherein our family smiles with the radiant, nuclear intensity of an Osmond wedding and in each of them will be a perfect picture of Connor's hand where his head should be. He has perfected the spontaneous photo bomb. My only clear picture of his countenance shows him slumped face-first into the couch, his nose bent sideways in a puddle of drool (I assume), with the dog frenching his ear.

I can only hope, as he enters high school, he will start combing his hair and washing his face the morning of Picture Day after discovering girls might want a picture of his actual face. I mean, he's a good-looking kid. I think. I don't know; all I see is hair.

Until that time, like every other parent of a teen boy, I lurk in the living room until I hear snoring, tip-toe into his room, peel back his hideous mop, gaze into his face, and think to myself: yes, that's him, thank God.

Other posts by Chris Garlington:
DIY: Repairing an Antique Doorknob in Five Easy Steps!
The Wet Willy Way
Talking to Your Kids About Sex
Subscribe to Death by Children

chris_garlingtonAbout the author:
Christopher Garlington lives in Chicago in a standard two kids, wife, dog, corner-lot, two car, small-business-owner American dream package. He drives a 2003 Camry, sports a considerable notebook fetish, and smokes Arturo Fuente Partaga Maduros at the Cigar King as often as possible. He is the humor columnist for Chicago Parent and New York Parent magazines. His fiction has appeared in Florida, Orlando, Orlando Weekly, Catholic Digest, Retort, Another Realm, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, South Lit, and other magazines. His short story collection, King of the Road, is available on Amazon. His column in Chicago Parent was nominated for a national humor award (rigged). He is the author of the infamous anti-parenting blog Death by Children; the anti-writing blog Creative Writer Pro; and co-author of The Beat Cop’s Guide to Chicago Eats, available on Amazon and in fine bookstores everywhere. Besides writing his columns, Garlington is currently cooking his way through A Treasury of Great Recipes, by Vincent Price, with the chefs of the famous underground supper club Cladestino.

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