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March 2012 / Bronx/​Riverdale Family / Brooklyn Family / Long Island Family / Manhattan Family / Queens Family / Staten Island Family / Columnists / Teens / Raising Boys / Death by Children

Picture im-perfect

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I was going through pictures of my son the other day, meaning I was thumb scrolling on my cellphone through a nearly infinite collection of perfect portraits of his hands, and remembered that I don’t have one good photo of him.

He hates getting his picture taken. I have exactly seven blurry snapshots of his face: in one, his face is half obscured by his Sasquatchian paw, and the rest are tiny portraits dominated by the inside of his mouth, the cover of a book, or his shirt pulled over his nose. And in a single unadulterated head shot, it is painfully obvious he’s farting.

My only hope has been Picture Day. And as I am a diligently organized parent with a Smartphone, a computer, a notebook, a day-timer, and a watch, I never know it’s Picture Day until Sasquatch is getting out of the car, whereupon he will lean in, as if to say something sweet, as if to offer me a bon mott, a fist bump — anything — but merely alerts me to the fact that he is not adequately dressed for the occasion.

Imagine: framed in the window with the sun behind him like a halo, his “Legalize It” T-shirt hanging in a stained, pouchy slouch; a tiny smear of grape jelly trailing off toward his ear; his unruly Aboriginal dome wrapped in greasy fur, as if his head is being raped by a grizzly — and he says: “Oh yeah, it’s Picture Day.”

Merde! Fantastic. I will add this new abomination to the growing aggregation of legendary school portraits wherein Junior appears…

• To have been dragged backwards through a bush

• Under anesthesia

• Infused with pure, unadulterated evil

• Over-caffeinated

I could scrapbook a three-inch brick of Disney pictures of our family smiling with the radiant intensity of an Osmond wedding, and in each of them, there will be a perfect picture of Connor’s hand where his head should be. He has perfected the spontaneous photo bomb. My only clear picture of his countenance shows him slumped face first into the couch, his nose bent sideways in a puddle of drool (I assume), with the dog Frenching his ear.

I can only hope, as he enters high school, that he will start combing his hair and washing his face on the morning of Picture Day after discovering that girls might want a picture of his actual face. I mean, he’s a good-looking kid. I think. I don’t know; all I see is hair.

Until that time, like every other parent of a teen boy, I lurk in the living room until I hear snoring, tiptoe into his room, peel back his hideous mop, gaze into his face and think to myself: yes, that’s him, thank God.

Updated 7:08 pm, October 28, 2016
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Reader feedback

Offswitch from Flatbush says:
My best one was my son decided to trim his eyebrows the day before picture day. He looked like a cross between a brillo pad and a chemo patient. (I still have those pictures, natch.)
March 29, 2012, 11:36 pm

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