Sight unseen

It’s picture time again and I need to know if my dilemma is unique. At my kids’ school, the photographs usually suck. I wouldn’t lose sleep over that, except that they make us pre-order them; like before they even take them. This is irritating to me. I mean if they had a history of producing high quality, attractive photos that could actually be displayed on a mantel somewhere, that might be easier to swallow. But in the past four years, not one of my older son’s pictures has even approached decent. I know, you’re thinking, “Well, maybe your son just isn’t that photogenic or worse, maybe he’s seriously homely.” But, and I’m being objective, neither of those are true. Besides, I’m not expecting perfection, just a picture that I’m not embarrassed when handing out those stupid little wallet-size shots. (By the way, does anyone actually enjoy getting those? I for one find them to be a huge nuisance and catalogue them immediately into the nearest circular file).

With so many potential battles to wage on the school front though, I’ve made the conscious decision to let this one slide. After all, it’s only a picture. But here’s the problem; if I don’t order the pictures, on principal, my kids are disappointed because they don’t get that silly class photo of classmates they’ll never remember by the time they look back at it 10 years from now. So I could order the smallest package they sell. It includes one 8×10, the class photo and 4 useless wallet prints. But even that’s $30. Multiply that times two kids and I just flushed $60 down the toilet on pictures I wouldn’t use to line my cat box with. (Okay, I don’t really have a cat. But you know what I mean).

But the even bigger problem, the one that haunts me every year as I try to decide what to do, is this: what if this time, this one time, I make the practical choice to not buy the darn things and the pics turn out brilliant? I mean, how lousy will I feel then?

So I’m really curious, is this pre-order thing standard operating procedure at other schools or is it unique to ours? And what would you do given the history of bad photos, the economic downturn and the sheer annoyance factor of being manipulated to buy the damn things sight unseen?