Come on, smile. It’s the last one

Pretty sure it’s the last one.

Thursday morning, when I mentioned to our 22-year-old daughter Emma I was pretty sure it was the last one she said, “It better be. If not I’m in trouble.”

I thought that was funny.

There have now been 18 pictures. All taken on our front porch. The first picture is usually of Emma by herself. The second picture is usually of me and Emma. And the third picture is of my wife and Emma.

Emma was five when the first picture was taken. She was nervous but happy. I remember how she grabbed my hand, leaned against me, and smiled for the camera.

Of course, about 20 minutes later, Emma wasn’t so happy. And she wasn’t smiling. She was crying.

She was crying, I think, because it dawned on her the first day of kindergarten at Mark Twain Elementary School meant she was on her own. The reason that dawned on her, I think, was because my wife and I started walking out of her classroom.

I remember smiling and waving at Emma as we walked out of that classroom.

And I remember crying as we walked out of the school.

I also remember the phone call we got, shortly after we got home, from Laurel Rosenthal the principal of Mark Twain. Laurel, who was also my wife’s kindergarten teacher, called to let us know Emma quickly quit crying after we left and was doing fine.

We have taken basically the same picture every year on Emma’s first day of school.. At first, Emma loved the first day of school pictures. Then, about the time Emma hit her first double-digit birthday, she went along with the pictures reluctantly.

Then, in junior high, she had to be coaxed into taking the pictures. And by “coaxed” I mean my wife saying, “Emma, we’re taking the (bad word) picture and that’s final.”

To be honest I began to dread the first day of pictures about the same time Emma did. And around the time Emma started junior high I figured she had enough to worry about without having to pose for pictures with her parents.

But I posed for them, nonetheless. And when I say “nonetheless” I mean because my wife would say, “Mike, we’re taking the (bad word) picture and that’s final.”

After we took the pictures Thursday morning I got in my car and my wife and Emma got into Emma’s car and we drove to Lawrence, Kansas to move Emma into her new apartment.

Now, some of you who read this column, may be thinking “But Mike, didn’t you help Emma move into her apartment a couple of weeks ago?”

To some of you thinking that I say, “Yes. Yes, we did. And about a week after that we helped Emma move some more stuff into her apartment.”

Some of you are now probably thinking, “Wow, how many times does it take to move Emma into an apartment?”

To some of you thinking that I say, “I would think three times would be plenty. But I don’t know for sure.”

Emma starts her final year of graduate school on Monday. That’s why she is hopeful it’s a wrap on first day of school pictures.

Like most parents, my wife and I have mixed emotions about Emma going back to school. We want her to finish, of course.

I mean, have you priced grad school lately?

But like most parents, we’re worried about the whole COVID-19 thing. But Emma’s pretty responsible about things and, with the exception of one class that meets in person once a week, all of her classes will be online.

So there is that.

I would like to say it doesn’t seem possible we’ve taken our last first day of school picture with Emma but I can’t.

The reason I can’t is because it does seem possible, at least to me. I remember all of those first day of school pictures. I remember Emma’s various moods. From excited, to nervous, to elated, to scared to death, back to excited and back to scared to death.

On Thursday I’m pretty sure Emma’s mood was “I can’t believe I’m finally getting out of this house and back with my friends for a while.”

At least that would be my mood if I were Emma.

I guess it would nice if, later this evening, my wife and I sat down and took a few minutes to look through all of those first day of school pictures to see how Emma and we have changed.

But we probably won’t.


Because we have no idea where most of them are.

a picture of mike and emma on her first day of kindergarten. Emma on the left is about waist high to mike and is hold his hand. She is wearing sunglasses and a new watch. Mike has Emma's backpack on his chest.
This is the first of 18 first day of school pictures taken. I know what you’re thinking and “Yes. I was cute back then.”
mike and Emma on her last first day of school picture. Emma is just half a head shorter than mike.
Here be the last first day of school picture. Do me a favor, don’t tell Emma you saw this picture. She didn’t want it posted because she didn’t like the way she looked. I, on the other hand, am adorable.