Just when you've forgotten all about them, school photos turn up in your child's bag. What do you do then?
Here are five stages that I go through every year!
1. Ooh and aah!
I gaze at the beautiful images, full of love for these children that I gave birth to but have suddenly grown so big. There's nothing like a well posed photo in neat school uniform to bring home just how quickly the years are flying by.
The photos are all the more precious for the fact that that the photographer has managed to capture my little darlings with proper smiles (as opposed to all the other faces and hand gestures that dominate every photo I have recently taken).
2. Pour over the details
I cast my mind back – usually months ago - to the morning of the actual photo day. I am thankful that we even remembered it was photo day (this is easier now my kids are older and remind me). I am happy that we had clean school uniforms without unexpected holes or intractable stains.
I am thankful that we had time for hair brushing and that the photo was taken early in the day, before they got muddy playing soccer or spilled their play lunch/glue down their front. There's a reason why school photographers start with the youngest kids!
I then look more closely, wondering whether the photo has been photoshopped. My daughter's school photo was digitally altered once – her missing front teeth were photoshopped in. As her smile only showed a tiny part of her 'teeth', it wasn't until I saw other media on the topic that I felt sure.
Why a photo company would spend the not inconsiderable time required to photoshop in all the missing front teeth of every early primary school child is an issue that begs big questions on the topics of societal norms and business sense.
3. Rack my brains
Once I've finished admiring the photos, my thoughts turn to what to do with them! A couple of months earlier, as part of deciding how many photos to order, I jotted down a list of relatives and friends who might be interested in a snap of my kids on their fridge.
This was very diligent of me, but the question now is whether I can find this hastily written list.
There are other questions to be answered. Which grandparent would most appreciate the only 20x25cm photo I ordered? Would Uncle Bob really notice if he missed out this year? Why did I get sucked into the two-for-one offer on mousepads, when no-one uses them anymore and, even if I did, I don't want my kids' faces being driven over by my mouse?
Even deciding which ones will stay with us and what we're going to do with them is tough. I used to take one set to work but, now I work from home, that's not needed.
I do remember to keep one set for the kids' school record books and use this whole exercise as a good excuse to clear all the paperwork off the front of the fridge.
4. Pretend to be back at school
The next challenge is my nemesis – cutting up the huge sheet into single photos. I am so bad at this that, this year, I confess to putting it off for a couple of weeks.
Every year, I have to admit to myself that I can't cut straight to save myself (I mentally re-live my high school work experience when I mutilated expensive gold cardboard in my quest to make medals for a primary school's Olympic Games).
This year I started using a small guillotine but my accuracy was so poor that I quickly reverted back to scissors. I try to concentrate enough that I don't inadvertently slip and cut through my child's chest or head!
Once I've cut (and then re-cut and tidied my cutting), I find envelopes to fit the various sizes, odd pieces of cardboard to help reinforce those that need to hit the post and stuff any leftovers into a spot from where they are unlikely to see the light of day again.
Most importantly, I put the instructions for how to download my digital copy onto of my computer keyboard, hoping to find time to wrestle with the website's download system before I lose the information or the opportunity.
5. Enjoy when others ooh and aah
I magnet my copy of the photos on the fridge, add the downloaded digital copy to my photo library, post hard copies to interstate relatives and an electronic copy to Facebook (ensuring my privacy settings are high).
Now I sit back, proud that I've tackled school photos for another year, to wait for other people to oo and ah over how gorgeous my kids are.