It's been a rough couple of days for my five-year-old. As she and I went door-to-door selling cookie dough for a school fundraiser, she was licked on the hand by a neighbor's dog when she innocently pet him. Moments later as we reached the next house and she rang the doorbell, I noticed that her hand had swollen and broken out in red blotches. She's allergic to dog saliva.
When she came home from school the next day her new jacket -- the jacket with the puff ball at the tip of the hood -- got snagged. The puff ball, once round and fluffy as all good puff balls should be, disintegrated into a loose pile of string that littered the school bus floor as if it had been a dandelion blown to pieces.
But at least she was home, safe and sound. Once she mourned the puff ball, she pulled out the contents of her backpack.
That's when I saw her kindergarten school pictures, and that's when I -- her own mother, the woman who brought her into the world and loves her dearly -- stifled laughter.
Now, school pictures are a notoriously unflattering rite of passage. I remember some of my own unfortunate wallet-sized mug shots and the downright unlucky timing when, in seventh grade, I got my braces off the day after school pictures were taken.
Somehow I expected that her first experience with them would be a smooth one. I was mistaken.
In the photo she's barely smiling. Her eyes peer forlornly up from underneath her bangs. The clincher is that she has a random green hair clip attached to the side of her head, creating a 1980's side ponytail look (which, for those of you who recall this hairstyle, was a trend that never ought to have been started.)
We didn't send her to school with a hair clip that day. She said that she found it in her bag, and since her pink dress didn't have a pocket, she opted to put it in her own hair -- directly on the side of her head.
My husband and I both questioned why the photographer didn't notice, but we figured that he had to snap hundreds of pictures of squirmy children and had no time to waste in ensuring that each child actually smiled, had his eyes open, or was not the victim of a rogue hair clip dangling from the side of her head, protruding sideways as if a strong gust of wind was blowing.
Just to check if I was overreacting, I showed the picture to a friend who stopped by one evening, a woman who is so sweet that she makes sugar seem bitter. She took one look, momentarily paused, and finally said, "Oh. Well, her dress is very pretty!"
We'll be opting for retakes.