Counting the first not firsts

We didn’t take the picture this year.

I thought about saying something but I remembered I hated taking the picture so I kept my mouth shut.

Emma hates taking the picture too so I’m thinking, if she even thought about the fact that we didn’t take it, she would have probably kept her mouth shut too.

My wife obviously forgot about the picture because she is the only one who loves taking it.

I shouldn’t say Emma and I hate everything about  taking the picture it’s just that, with my wife, a little bit tends to go a long way.

A really, really long way.

The picture I’m talking about isn’t just a picture. It’s a series of pictures we took on every one of Emma’s first days of school from 2003 until 2020.

Here, is the order in which the pictures usually were taken.

Picture #1: Emma on our porch by herself.

Picture#2: Emma and me on the porch.

Picture #3: Emma and my wife on our porch.

Picture #4: Emma and her friend Katie in the parkway between our house and Katie’s house.

Picture #5: Emma, Katie and me telling my wife to quit taking pictures or everyone will be late for the first day of school.

There were a lot of pictures to be taken is what I’m saying.

Making things worse in the picture taking department is that as time marched on and our phones also became cameras my wife insisted pictures be taken both on a regular camera and on a cellphone.

Several cellphones, in fact.

This, if I remember my math increased the number of pictures taken by…(let’s see…I know this… you just move the decimal point to the left, or maybe the right and then do something with the cosign and you get) roughly 274 percent.

I think.

Last year when Emma was heading back to the University of Kansas for her last year of graduate school, we took what I told Emma would be our last first day of school picture.

“I hope,” Emma said. “If not, I’ll be in real trouble.”

Emma is no longer in graduate school she is working as a designer in Kansas City. So, last week, when she was heading back to Kansas City after spending a weekend at home with us, no one thought about taking the picture.

Well, as I already mentioned, I thought about it but had the good sense not to bring it up.

Later, after Emma left, and my wife and I took our walk my wife stopped and said, “Oh no! We didn’t take the  picture.”

“What picture?” I asked because I didn’t just fall of the school supplies truck.

“The first day of school picture,” my wife said.

“It’s not her first day of school. She’s heading back to work,” I said.

“But still,” my wife said.

I don’t know how things are with other people but my wife can pack a whole lot of stuff in a simple, “But still.”

My wife was of the opinion we should have taken some sort of picture to mark Emma’s first not first day of school.

That’s right. My wife is now counting the “not first days of school.”

Next year, around this time, I’m guessing my wife will get a small tear in her eye and say “This is Emma’s second not first day of school. We should get a picture.”

The walk my wife and I were on is the walk I suggested we take several months ago. See, last January my wife decided to cut back a bit and began working only three days a week.

In an effort to try and show that I care about such things, last spring, I suggested my wife and I, on the days she didn’t work, take a walk from our house, to the Square downtown and back. A distance of about three miles.

“It will be good for us,” I said.

And when I said “good for us” I meant, of course, good for my wife.

See my wife tends to get wound up about stuff.

“How wound up?” you ask.

So wound up she is now counting Emma’s not first days of school. That’s how wound up.

So, I was thinking a three-mile walk, two or three days a week, would help keep my wife from getting so wound up.

That’s what I was thinking anyway.

But what happens is because my wife insists on carrying her phone on our walks, she sometimes still manages to wind herself up.

Here is how a typical walk goes:

Me (Half a block into our walk): Boy it sure is quiet.

Wife: Yes it… (phone rings) Hello. No, she didn’t!  She did? I can’t believe it. Wait I’ve got another call, I’ll call you back. Hello. I know! I just found out. Can you believe she did it?

Me (An hour and a half later): Well that was nice.

My wife: I know! I can believe she did it. Wait a minute, Mike’s saying something. What did you say Mike?

Me: (Sigh) Nothing.

But despite my wife not totally unwinding on our walks she seems to enjoy them. They do let us mentally slip away for a while and let’s face it taking a three-mile walk two or three times a week is sort of healthy.

Or it would be if my wife and I didn’t sometimes stop at a nice place on the Square for burgers and beers halfway through our walk.

But that’s probably just a bit of nitpicking.

In 2003 when we posed for those first, first day of school pictures I never imagined my wife and I would turn into one of those old couples who take walks.

But we did.

And now we’re counting not first days of school.