“Back to school”… these simple words mean so many different things to so many different people. To any scrapper, however, “back to school” means more once-in-lifetime photos and the start of another theme to scrap! This year, my family has reached a milestone- my oldest son, Jack, has begun 6th grade, which in this area is the beginning of “middle school”. With much fanfare (and very little tact) Jack has decreed that his mother will not be allowed to follow him all over campus with a camera. Any scrapper will know that my heart broke at those words, and yet it proved a challenge I just could not resist. How on earth was I to scrap the school year without all the zillions of photos that I was used to rallying around?!
In our area, the first day of the 2005 school year was August 3rd. Many consider that early, but what is even earlier is the 6:15 a.m. bus stop that my new 6th grader cannot miss. I was told that morning, in a more polite tone this time, that it wasn’t “cool” for mom to be at the bus stop clicking away with the camera, and I knew that I wouldn’t get good photos anyway if Jack resented me being there. I was resigned to taking photos at home, and not at the bus stop, and under no circumstances was I to get to the school and take pictures of him coming off the bus. (That smart child had thought of everything and was a step ahead of me!)
I thought back to the reason I started scrapbooking anyway… to preserve memories of my children. Genius stung me that early morning when I realized that my son was now old enough to lend input for his own scrapbooks, or at least some of the layouts in those scrapbooks. There is no reason why his scrapbooks shouldn’t include HIS memories, and not my memories of him. Sure, it sounds simple, but as a mother, it is very hard for me to “let go”. I still find it hard to consider Jack is “my oldest son”; to me, he’s really more of “my first baby”, and how could he possibly want to be independent already?
The purpose of this article -- now that you have all the sordid details of why I chose to right it -- is to inspire a new kind of back-to-school-layout. I challenge you to include your child’s memories of the school year. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
OTHER SCHOOL “SUBJECTS” Clothes- You’ve spent a fortune on new clothes, shoes, jackets, sweaters, etc…. why not scrap them? Has your child’s style changed from last year? If so, why? What new fashion item was an absolute must-have for your child? Close-up photos of new school clothes can make a great collage-type layout that may not require a lot of journaling. In the years to come, it will be a great “I-can’t-believe-I-used-to-wear-those-clothes” memory.
Hairstyles- Though my boys don’t really care about their hairstyle, I remember how important it was to have my hair looking just right for the first day of school. The first impression was always the most important, and as a young girl, I wanted to have the perfect hairstyle. In retrospect, growing up in the 1980’s meant that I am now somewhat ashamed of my “big, feathered hair.” Remember that you are not just saving memories; you are collecting potential blackmail material.
Supplies- Just like clothes and hairstyles, the school supplies list also changes as your child grows older. When I asked Jack if he needed crayons like his 4th-grade brother, I was answered with a very indignant, “Of course not, Mom! I’m in middle school now!” Jack is very proud of his binder with diligently labeled tab dividers, and thrilled at the opportunity to use mechanical pencils. As a further sign of the times, he is also required to have a USB stick, to save any assignments that he completes on the school’s computers. This is a definite change from the elementary school supply lists and a very interesting addition to a school scrapbook. Pictures of the school supplies can easily be taken at home, without the need to photograph his locker at school and risk damage to his “cool image”.
SCRAPPING WITHOUT PHOTOS There are so many great stickers, papers, and digital elements that you can do an entire layout with all the bells and whistles even if you do not have photos. Some of you may know that I’m a big lobbyist for more meaningful journaling in layouts. When you lack the photos, journaling is the PERFECT way to fill in dead space in your scrapbooks. If you are truly at a loss for words, then perhaps you could use someone else’s words. Ask your child about their school day and journal what they tell you, or better yet, have them write about it and include their own writing in the layout. Having a sample of your child’s handwriting throughout the years is a wonderful keepsake, especially in the current age of email and typed correspondence.
HAND OVER THE CAMERA Many times, when I am not a chaperone for a class field trip, I find it helpful to send along a disposable camera with my child. Not only will I get photos to scrap, but often, I get very interesting photos. Naturally, children have a very different perspective, and you’ll find it very enlightening what you’re child considers photo-worthy. Be sure to ask the teacher if the camera is permitted first, and be prepared for a few unusable photos. It took a few times for my boys to get used to operating a camera, but I always get a few really good pictures that when added with their journaling, makes for a great layout.
When you can’t get the “typical” photos of your student with his/her teacher, sitting at a new desk, or waiting for the school bus, there are options available. Don’t give up on those layouts just because you don’t have photos to scrap. Just be creative and remember that memories are more than just photographs.