My social media is full of pictures of children of all ages on their first day of school. I even saw a picture from a grandparent who posted pictures of her grown daughters! A time-honored tradition has moved from photo paper and scrapbooks to mobile screens. Just like those fleeting days at school, these photos will vanish sooner than we realize.
Our pictures tell stories of moments in time that freeze only because they are captured. After 10 or 12 years of photos, the early ones become the blur of a distant past. I remember when I studied about why it is good to take notes in class. The action of taking notes does nothing for learning; only the review of the notes makes any difference. I think it is the same with photos.
All these moments in time add up to become the person who finally walks across the stage to get a diploma or stands before the minister to be given to someone else. The memory is brought back by the review because the memory had begun to blur.
We want to capture what they looked like on a certain day. Maybe a new set of clothes or a new haircut or the tooth missing in action this year. We look at old pictures and remember more than one day. With any luck, an entire season of their life comes rushing back to fill our hearts with love and promise again.
First day pictures are about hope, essentially. We hope these clothes will fit in, not alienate. We hope that these glasses will assist learning not encourage teasing. We hope this innocent little heart will not be broken by the meanness of someone else on the playground. We hope the teacher will see all the promise we see as we frame the first day in our hearts.
Why don’t we take pictures of their first day after they come home?
Which place holds more promise—their temporary learning quarters or the home where we have molded their hearts for 4 or 5 or 18 years? Do we expect more from strangers than we have given as loving parents?
Why not pay more attention to how our homes feel than how our children look when they leave! Don’t ask, “How was your day?” Ask, “What exciting thing did you learn today?” Try showing the same excitement about the books they brought home than you did about the backpack you sent to school. Remember that there is even more to learn around the house than in the halls of learning. Pique their curiosity. Include them in your own learning projects. Show them how you look up things that you want to learn. Let them turn the wrench or saw the wood or stir the pot.
It’s easy to raise a couch potato. Just let them sit around, play with the controller and make sure to do all the work around the house for them while they sit. That will create entitled, ignorant, spoiled brats. Who wants a picture of selfishness to put on the wall?
Take a picture when they leave. Take more when they come home. Take them throwing the ball, bouncing on the trampoline, looking out the window and playing with the dog. Don’t forget taking pictures while they look up things on the internet, help in the garage or put dishes in the dishwasher. Use pictures to teach what should be done to get ready for school. Post them like instructions in the place where getting ready is to occur. Take lots of pictures! This season is the best season!