It is not enough for me to believe in love. I want to love fully. I don’t know how to do this, but I am learning. I am learning in small, seemingly insignificant ways.
It was picture day at school. I arrive early to prep for the day. My husband brings the kids later. My daughter gets out of the car wearing a dress for the first time in at least a year. She had her sneakers on as to not be too out of her self-prescribed norm of nothing but athletic wear. But, she was in a dress, nonetheless.
“Cute,” I think, but never dare say to her. She, like me, shuts down when someone notices something about her. I’m also still learning what that is all about. I imagine it’s also about not knowing how to love fully by allowing others to love me in the way they know best. Sometimes their best is a simple compliment. I am my children’s model. (Un)lucky them.
My son hops out next, hair tangled, t-shirt, dirty pants, satchel hanging across his shoulder and a bright yellow bandana tied around his neck. He is so happy and proud.
My heart sinks. Not this. Not for picture day. Even with headshots being the goal, the bandana will be front and center. At least my daughter’s shoes won’t show.
I say nothing. Silence is golden, some say. I, at first, stay silent because I am in charge of parents dropping off some near 40 students and I don’t have a moment to slip away and ask if he might consider having a picture taken without his bandana.
I know I will cherish these photos forever.
But as the minutes pass by and the photographer shows up, I continue to stay silent. I remind myself what I tell parents when they arrive horrified they’ve forgotten about picture day.
I tell them, “Please do not worry. What your child is wearing right now is a true representation of who s/he is. What a great memory you will have. One day, I imagine, you will look at these pictures and think ‘oh, this is who s/he truly was in this moment of time.’”
Parents smile and thank me for putting them at ease. They drive away and get to forget their worry until the pictures arrive home. I have to stay and observe both my son in what he is actually wearing and my internal struggle of not knowing how to fully love my son on picture day.
It’s so much easier to say the words to other parents than to believe them myself. It is especially hard when my son “dressed up” for the picture and didn’t show up in his somewhat “normal” attire. I had to remind myself that one day, I too, will look at these pictures knowing this is him.
As he walks up for his turn, I am reminded it’s so much easier to say I love my son than it is to remain silent as a way to love and to love fully. I am reminded silence is golden. I learned on this day that silence is also love.
So, here it is: My son’s 2019 Spring School Picture: A Seemingly Insignificant Lesson in Loving Fully.