Today was Spring Portrait Day at Charlie’s elementary school. I, of course, did not remember this important date until ten minutes after Charlie was already out the door for school. I thought back to what he was wearing and noted that the outfit he had on was passable and I also remembered, with a spring in my step, that he had just recently gotten a haircut. It’s going to be alright, I thought to myself. School picture day is going to be alright. Ordinarily, Charlie prefers to dress up for school pictures with a tie and whatnot. I decide that as long as he is able to keep his disappointment about the lack of sophisticated wear for this particular picture day in check, everything will be alright.
Everything, I realize at school pick-up, is NOT alright. Charlie gets into the car from the pick-up line and I see that there are at least three smears of mud wiped across his face. His good shirt (the one I remember him wearing when he left for school this morning) is nowhere to be seen. Instead, Charlie is sporting his undershirt, one of the rattier ones, with two small teeth holes front and center. The shirt must be one from the series of oldies worn by Charlie during his t-shirt chewing phase.
Charlie: Hi Mom!
Cassie: Hi. Today was picture day.
Charlie: No kidding.
Cassie: Do I hear fresh?
Charlie: No. I’m just saying, yea, I know it was picture day.
Cassie: Ummm….Charlie, please tell me THAT is not what you were wearing when you had your picture taken this morning.
Cassie: The t-shirt. Where’s the shirt you had on this morning? And your face is smeared with mud. There’s a lot of mud.
Charlie: No, I had my other shirt on for the picture…on top of this one. Don’t worry.
Cassie: I am worried. And the mud. Like, why is there so much mud?
Charlie: Don’t worry. I remembered during recess that today was picture day. I was truly bummed that I didn’t wear a three piece suit, ya know, but then I wouldn’t have been able to play such fantastic Four Square. It probably won’t be one of my better school pictures.
Cassie: Probably not.
Charlie: I washed my face in the boy’s bathroom right before the picture was taken. I didn’t want to but the teacher said I looked too sweaty. I asked if I could just spruce up at the water fountain. She said no. I hate going into the bathroom at school. There’s always puke or poop all around.
Cassie: All around?
Charlie: Or the memories of it. You know what I mean?
Cassie: Yes. I do. (Pause.) So anyway, you had the other shirt on for the picture and you were sort of cleaned up.
Cassie: Then why are there so many mud smears still on your face right now?
Charlie: (He swipes at the smears.) These are from the second recess.
Cassie: The second recess?
Charlie: Oh God, Mom. Yes. There are two recesses!
Cassie: Because if this is how you looked for the photo….well, it’s not good. Even with the other shirt on, the mud on the face really kind of ruins the whole thing.
Charlie: Oh, Mom. They always do touch-ups anyway.
Cassie: Touch-ups? How do you know that?
Charlie: That’s what the guy who took my picture said.
Cassie: So you sat down to have your picture taken and the first thing the photographer talked about was touch-ups?
Charlie: Yeah. I think so. I can’t remember. Mom! I washed. I did! (Pause.) It’s just a school picture. Who gives a crap?!
Cassie: Watch your tone, mister. (Pause.) Because, Charlie, you want to look nice for the school memory…for our time here on the west coast…in Saratoga. You can look back on the picture many years from now and remember—
Charlie: —that I was awesome at Four Square. So I had a little mud on my face. “Got mud on your face…big disgrace….We will, we will rock you.”
Cassie: Very funny. Touch-ups probably cost extra.
Charlie: Whatever….I didn’t wear my good suit for the picture anyway so the picture’s going to be stupid and who cares.
Cassie: I care. I love having a nice picture of my handsome Charlie.
Cassie: I do.
Charlie: Why don’t I just dress up in my blue suit and you can take some fancy photographs of me yourself.
Cassie: We could do that.
Charlie: (sighing) Maybe. Not today. I’m done with pictures.
Cassie: Anyway, you can’t walk around wearing an undershirt like that at school again. Since it’s getting hotter now, you probably shouldn’t wear the longer sleeve shirts with the undershirts underneath. No more undershirts. Just wear your nice t-shirts. Otherwise, you’ll get too hot.
Charlie: And get B.O.
Cassie: Yea…right…B.O. It just looks a little too shabby for school. Okay?
Charlie: Okay. But some teachers said I looked like James Dean. Who’s that?
Cassie: A rebel without a cause…..
Charlie: What, a bad dude?
Cassie: Oh he was a dude alright. I’ll tell you about him some other time.
Charlie: Was he bad?
Cassie: Maybe. It all depends on how you look at it. He was extremely handsome.
Charlie: Even when he had dirt on his face?
Cassie: Yes. Especially because he had dirt on his face.
Cassie: Yes. I do.