Well, school starts tomorrow, and usually this is where I would write my annual woe-is-me post about my kids going back to school. This isn’t that. But, do know that in my heart I am absolutely grieving the beginning of another school year. It’s not that I’m not excited for the kids–I am. It’s just that I simply hate to see them go.
With the idea of clinging to the last few glorious moments of summer in mind, I wanted to tell you about a fun tradition that the kids and I have in the last week of summer. It’s simple, it’s inexpensive, and it helps to create a unique and fun keepsake that I hope they’ll enjoy for a long time to come.
When Adelade was about to start kindergarten, I took her to the mall the day before. I just felt like I had to get one last fun thing in before she skipped away into the sunset with her amazing kindergarten teacher. I bought her a cookie with rainbow icing, and after we window shopped for awhile, we walked past a photo booth, and on a whim we climbed into it and took some silly pictures.
Little did I know that day that we were beginning a hilarious and fun end-of-summer tradition. For the past seven years, we have managed to find a photo booth sometime during the last week of summer, and we keep climbing inside and documenting our hairstyles, height changes, and wrinkle progression (ahem).
Our rules are that you can’t start doing your pictures until the week before kindergarten. So, Emerald doesn’t have any yet. And, on the final pose (of the four pictures the booth takes), all school aged kids jump in and smile. I let the kids choose whatever wacky pattern they want (Sawyer’s past two years have been cats in space and pizza and tacos). When the kids are seniors, I plan to have all thirteen photostrips framed with a custom mat. Each time you go, the booth gives you three copies of each photo strip, so I’ll be able to make a framed gift for each of them and one for myself!
It’s going to be such a fun keepsake. But, I think what I love best about it is just the experience. We all look forward to going, and we laugh and laugh over the funny faces and the frantic decisions of what to do when the camera flashes. After our pictures print, we walk over to the cookie place in the mall and we eat our cookies and laugh at our pictures and squeeze all the joy we can out of the last few days of summertime.
One tip: be sure you label the pictures on the back! You think you’ll remember forever how old they were, but as the pictures pile up, it’ll get harder to tell.
Today we took our pictures and got our cookies, and later Sawyer asked me if life was better before I had kids. I looked into his little freckled face, one day shy of third grade. I didn’t know how to explain that life is obviously, infinitely, shockingly more worrisome, more joyful, more terrifying, more hilarious, more wonderful with these babies in my life. Tomorrow morning they head out to conquer the world once again. And, before I know it, we’ll be at the threshold of another glorious summer. In the meantime, there are plenty of school year memories to be made and treasured.
Do you have any neat end-of-summer or back-to-school traditions? Do tell!