Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Moments such as these

On my way out of the Bunster's preschool, there was a big sign "Graduation and Make-up Photos are Here!" I vaguely remembered there being a picture day a few weeks back, so I stopped to check if we had a packet to pick up. Sure enough, there was a thick envelope with a horrendous photo of the Bunster peeking out.

At the Bunster's old school, school pictures were done just as I remember them from my elementary school years. There was one picture day per year. A few weeks later, you got a proof sheet and an order form that featured a variety of options, none of which were exactly the combination of photo sizes and numbers that you wanted. You bought the assortment you compromised on and it arrived not long afterward, along with a copy of the class photo. If your eyes were closed, you got one chance to retake the photo. And that was it.

Not at the Bunster's current school, though.

We've now completed the fourth "picture day" of this school year and I'm not sure we're done yet. We had the Fall photos, the Spring photos, the Graduation photos, and also a Natural Poses photo day, which we skipped (I think Natural Poses means positioning the child awkwardly with his hand curled under his chin in front of a cutesy backdrop, then photoshopping the image to make it look as much as possible like those fake vintage greeting cards. At least, as far as I could tell from the samples.).

With all this practice, we've gotten to know the drill. Each photo shoot involves several poses, some with accessories like wicker chairs or baskets of fake apples. A few weeks later, we receive a large packet with multiple photos of each pose. We select the ones we want to keep and return the rest along with payment for the prints we kept. The Spring photos also include the option to buy a class photo. And of course, each time we are also solicited to buy additional prints and miscellaneous photo-related keepsakes from their handy web site.

The Graduation photos, however, turn out to be a little different. There is only one pose, which they printed in various sizes. It shows the Bunster grimacing in a white gown and mortarboard, while clutching a white diploma tied with a gold bow. If you swapped out the mortarboard for a halo and the diploma for a cardboard harp, he'd look like a little boy who really doesn't want to play the angel in the Christmas pageant but is putting up with it, having failed in his struggles to break free. The photo is certainly a keeper, but not in quite the way they intended.

In addition to this, they included a handy ready-to-fill-out "Graduation Certificate" and photo holder, with gilt lettering (presented to ______ for successful completion of study and active attendance), and a pre-scrapbooked photo, with little mortarboard-and-diploma graphics and the slogan "Moments such as these only happen once."


"Moments such as these" aren't going to only happen once. The photos seem to happen at a pretty steady pace. And as for the graduation, if this early start is any indication, moments like this will happen five more times. Maybe more, if he heads for grad school.

Why is there is such a thing as pre-school graduation at all? Sure, leaving preschool and heading off for Kindergarten is a milestone. But it's one that should be celebrated with cupcakes and juice. Perhaps a Spring Concert for parents to admire their kids as they sing and do a little play. Maybe even a bounce-house if you're going all out.

Instead, the Bunster's graduation involves the following:
  • Six weeks of almost-daily rehearsal.
  • Photo in cap-and-gown, with diploma and little blue "Class of 2007" tassel.
  • A $25 "graduation fee" to the school.
  • A requirement that we send the kids to school on graduation day in black pants (which is, of course, about the only color the Bunster does not already own).
  • A special graduation tee shirt (nice, except that he has about 47 tee shirts already).
  • The presentation of a fake diploma, so that the real one can be handed directly to the parents afterward, to preserve it in pristine condition.
  • And worst of all, missing his brother's high school graduation, because the ceremonies are, by awful coincidence, on the same day, one hour and 56 miles apart.
I thought, briefly, about skipping the fake graduation in favor of the real one. And then I remembered the six weeks of preparation, the new songs, the constant hype the kids have all received. I thought about how I'd have felt, missing a party all my school friends were going to. And so the Bunster and I will be there, fakely graduating, while big brother G, J, and the grandparents will be doing the real thing.

At least we're sure to have plenty of photos.

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At 5/25/2007 10:36 AM, Blogger Brian Buccellato said...

Congratulations on your wealth of pictures!

And thanks for stopping by my blog... it's lonely.

May all your days be picture days...


At 5/25/2007 12:09 PM, Blogger Sara Kocher said...

Aww, your blog shouldn't be's a good read. Here's a link to it, in case my three or four readers haven't checked it out already:

At 5/29/2007 7:41 PM, Blogger Steve Buccellato said...

Personally, I think that all the "graduation" stuff they do in school is unbelievably over-the-top. It also makes "real" graduations from elementary, middle and high schools less meaningful.

On the other hand, MY son's graduation from Pre-School last year was AWESOME!

At 5/29/2007 10:55 PM, Blogger Sara Kocher said...

Steve, your son's graduation WAS awesome. They sang a few songs, wore ordinary nice clothes and (unless I was distracted and missed it) they didn't receive diplomas.

And when did even elementary school and middle school graduations become "real," anyway? The first time I had any kind of graduation celebration that was more than the ordinary "yay, school's out!" variety was for high school.

Ah, the gold ole days...when we all walked to school barefoot, uphill both ways, in blinding snow storms. Kids today!!!

At 6/23/2007 12:59 PM, Blogger mmclaurin said...

Congrats. Lil T graduated from Kindergarten this year, and it was kind of anti-climactic. He's already ready for 1st grade, in the same school, and trying desperately to catch up to his brother's grade.


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