Say ‘cheese’ and mean it

By Kristen Tribe | Published Saturday, August 27, 2016

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All I wanted was one photo.

It was the first day of school, after all. And among first days, this was a big one for the Tribes.

Both kids are in middle school this year.

My eighth grader was an orientation leader, and my sixth grader was excited to ride a new wave of independence. We’re growing up!

Kristen Tribe

Kristen Tribe

My mom heart swelled when I stepped back and realized how far they’ve come, from littles totally dependent on me to a teen and tween who can do things and are actually helpful most of the time. Plus, they’re witty and pretty much my best friends. (What can I say? They’re really starting to grow on me.)

But their tween/teenage years have brought with it an aversion to cameras.

I have thousands of photos from their baby and toddler days. Back then, I could hold up a camera and was always met with a drooling grin, funny face or wacky antic. I photographed everything (and this was before phones with cameras).

My picture-taking has evolved as they have grown older, and although I don’t document every moment, I try to hit the highlights.

So when the eighth grader emerged a few weeks ago wearing his official orientation leader shirt and my sixth grader was bubbling with exuberance over attending said orientation, I thought, ‘this is it.’ It’s a moment that must be photographed.

But I was met with resistance. They were so anxious to get to orientation, they wouldn’t even afford me this one mom privilege. They wouldn’t stand next to each other, and when I did finally get them in the same frame, their smiles were pitiful, a poor representation of their actual excitement.

This annoyed me. I mean, really? I bend over backwards for these two every day, and they wouldn’t give me this one thing … this one mom thing.

The episode ended in me snapping a photo of two kids with half-smiles who appeared to be fighting epic eye rolls. With frustration levels through the roof, none of us spoke to each other on the way to orientation. I wished them good luck and goodbye!

Of course, we made up, and I was hopeful they would redeem themselves on the first day of school.

For goodness sake, smile like you mean it. And if not, prepare to be lectured. I will not let this moment pass again.

I decided this time I would give them fair warning and talk it up all weekend … give their middle school brains time to ruminate on the fact that there would be first-day of school photos.

We got up early, ate a tasty breakfast and before we left, paused for the all-important photo. I had already decided if it didn’t work out, I wasn’t going to let it ruin their day or mine.

And as I held up the camera, they came together in perfect harmony with semi-sincere smiles for the first-day photo of my dreams.

Day. Made.

Kristen Tribe is editor of the Messenger. It’s all middle school, all the time at her house.

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