Baby Pictures: Slice of Life 30/31 #sol17

slice of life

He’s had something on his mind all week, but he hasn’t been ready to tell me. When I read the school announcements this morning, I figure it out.

8th Grade Reflections: Items needed by EACH student:

  • One infant photo
  • One toddler photo
  • One current photo
  • A favorite quote (school appropriate)
  • Video describing your favorite 8th grade memory

Perhaps my own memory is faulty, but I don’t remember the end of eighth grade as a rite of passage or a special achievement. Eighth grade ended, and we moved on to ninth grade with no fanfare.

But now there is fanfare. A graduation ceremony. A celebration. And, apparently, a reflection. With photos. Photos my son doesn’t have.

Of course a child adopted at an older age isn’t going to have baby pictures or toddler pictures. But adoption isn’t the only experience that might separate a child from the photographic record of his or her life. My son may be the only adopted kid in his class, but he is probably not the only kid who feels excluded and singled out by the requirement of “one infant photo” and “one toddler photo.”

I email the principal. She agrees to change the language to “Two childhood photos.” That was my suggestion, but in retrospect, I worry even that isn’t inclusive enough for all of the possible experiences of these eighth graders, all of the ways that something as seemingly simple and straightforward as two childhood photos may not be simple and straightforward at all.

 

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11 thoughts on “Baby Pictures: Slice of Life 30/31 #sol17

  1. Thank you for reminding us to consider our students’ histories when making similar requests. We need to remember that there are students in our classes who don’t have the photographs and other mementos that we take for granted.

  2. I so appreciate you sharing this perspective! To be honest, it is one that had not occurred to me. Every year our PTA creates a 5th grade memory book as the students leave the elementary level and move up to middle school. Every year, they ask each student for a baby picture, preschool picture, and 2nd grade picture. I will have a discussion with them next year so that we may be more sensitive to all students. Thank you.

  3. Sometimes simply starting an email with the words, “Dear Parents” is enough to bring a wince to a reader. Our students and their families, like all of us, have to deal with life’s struggles, but we need to be as supportive as we can whenever we can. Thank your for your post, and for all you do.

  4. I just came home from listening to a l panel discussion at my school on diversity. Adoption, and older adoption, is a different identity we are often not considering. Thank you for this piece, to remind us.

  5. Yes!! Eighth grade graduation used to be a non-event! I like your idea to do childhood photos, but you’re right. It might be hard for some.

  6. I hate, hate, hate these kinds of things, that exclude so many kids. A lot of them happen at the beginning of the school year, too, e.g. tell the story of your name. Those kinds of things always send my boys off on totally the wrong foot.

  7. Agreed. My kids, adopted at 6 and 8, were pretty blasé about just bringing in the earliest pictures we have of them, but it could have gone bad pretty easily. The family tree was much more painful to contend with. It reminds me of when a math teacher at my school had his students measure the area of their bedroom and compare it to the area of their parents’ bedroom. One student went to a TA and said, “But I sleep on the couch in the living room.” It is so easy to make assumptions as teachers–the important thing is to be thoughtful and to be responsive when our oversights are pointed out.

  8. First of all, I agree about the whole kindergarten, 6th grade, 8th graduation stuff. Not sure where that has come from, but it does take something away from the real thing.
    Thank you so much for speaking out for these young children and families who feel singled out for not having photos. And it’s more than just these kids. At the Title I school where I teach, I know not everyone would be able to provide this stuff.

  9. So important to think about. Our yearbook adviser decided to drop the “guess who?” baby picture section from our yearbook this year. (Ours was a recognition of how our lack of diversity from some cultures would make those kids’ baby pictures really stand out.)

  10. Oh God. You are so correct. Just hard. Like some of the comments here attest. We can’t make these sweeping assumptions that we have all had cookie cutter experiences.

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