I am that super-annoying mom who always has to do shit differently.

Why can’t I just shut my trap and go with the rest of the sheep, er, flow?

I’m against trophies, unless you actually place. (I was all set to argue against soccer trophies, except that my daughter’s team was actually in first place, so yay! Trophies).

I didn’t let my kids participate in the school choir concert because the parents in the audience are so poorly behaved you can’t hear anything, much less your own kid singing, until the asshole in front of you’s kid starts singing and then they finally shut up for a second; and nobody, even the people in charge of the event, is willing to take the microphone and tell everyone to SHUT UP, except for me, who would probably get kicked out for grabbing the mic.

Okay. Rant over. (But don’t you just hate assemblies like that? People behave more politely at ROCK concerts. I am not even joking).

This year, I didn’t pre-purchase school pictures.

You know the ones. The ones where the photographer says,  “Say CHEESE!” and your kid gets a goofy fake grin showing both rows of teeth all the way back to where the wisdom teeth will come in?

The ones you have to pay for BEFORE you buy? The cheapest package was $30 or $40. You can get them retaken, but it’s a pain. And really– $120 for three kids’ poorly taken pics that we don’t even want to give to their own grandparents?

I said no.

Every freaking year, our kids come home with stupid looking photos. Hair is sticking up, there’s a half smile, their eyes are partially closed. The terrible thing is, my kids are really cute, and there’s no reason for us to buy crappy pictures where they look like they just woke up from a night terror.

What other goods do you pay for before you see what you’re getting? Maybe online goods– but you have a reasonable expectation of what those will look like.

And seriously, there are other portrait studios who have done a great job of getting kids to smile naturally. The preschool where my kids went, and the private school they attended for a couple of years both used a different studio, with greater success. They never said CHEESE.

But I still felt a little funny– guilty, even– about not filling out the envelopes with the money. What about all my weird school portraits? Who was I to deny my children the chance to have crappy pictures for their own children to laugh at?

I got over it.

First I called the photography studio and asked if I could buy photos AFTER the fact, in case they turned out well.

“Yes you can,” she said.

“And do you give a portion of the proceeds to the school?” I said.

“Yes we do,” she said.

Ah.

I told the kids that we were not getting photos. I told them we were not sending in money. On school picture day, Little Girl’s teacher had her call me from the office. In a tremulous voice, my daughter asked if she was meant to bring in money today, and that I needed to bring it in right now.

“Let me talk to your teacher,” I said. She said she wanted to make sure that we hadn’t indeed forgotten. I said nope, just not doing it.

I’m sure the reason my daughter was upset was because she was doing something out of the norm, and got called out, and felt bad. But you know what? It builds character. (Yes, I’m one of those moms, too. Embarrassed? Ashamed? Have to work hard? CHARACTER, my friend.)

In the spring, the portrait studio returns and does more portraits. These they send home as proofs, and you buy from the proofs. Miraculously, these spring portraits are always better. Oh, my, why could that be?  Because they have to convince you to buy, rather than trapping you in?

The proofs for the fall portaits came back. I have to admit (and I can’t show it here because it’s not mine) I really was tempted to buy a portrait of my child grimacing, full-figure, with a school bus superimposed onto the background.

“It looks like the bus is about to hit her,” Cadillac said.

It really did.

 

*for the record, the other two kids’ photos did not turn out so well, either.