School photos: those annual visual mementos that kids groan about sitting for and parents groan about buying. They’re goofy, they’re posed, they’re stiff and mostly unflattering. Every year I spring for the cheapest package for each kid, and then stash away the envelope full of pictures because a) I have so many better pics to display in frames, b) how many people really want creepy pictures of my kids, and c) who actually carries photos in their wallet anymore anyway?

I still look back at my own school pics in horror — sportin’ a Dorothy Hamill haircut, a mouth full of metal, oversized specs — and remember the small black plastic combs the TD Brown photographer would hand out while we waited in line and heckled our classmates as they faced the camera. My kids think the glimpse into my groovy past is hilarious.

And so I’m not really sure exactly what to do with all my kids’ annual photos, other than relinquish them eventually so their kids can ridicule them. With my oldest guy’s senior picture in hand, though, I thought it would be fun to see that sweet face grow up through the years — and I’m most impressed with myself for finding 15 of the 16 photos (I had to scan the 7th grade pic from the yearbook), particularly after moving four times since he started preschool as a two-year-old!

So hang on to those school pics each year, even though individually they might not seem like treasures. I think the payoff comes when you can line up 13 or 14 years’ worth of photos and watch your baby grow up before your eyes.


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