Ok, I'm going to get real for a moment. Buckle up.
Senior year is coming. If you are a class of 2018 parent you are already seeing the dollar signs looming on the horizon. Soon you will see that EVERYTHING is branded with your child's graduation year. Everything. And it won't take long to see that there are a million things to purchase, events to attend, and lots of dollars to spend for their final high school year.
Just weeks ago my second son graduated. It was a hell of a year. It's crazy how many things that you have absolutely no use for we will purchase in the name of graduation. Take the super adorable stuffed animal that prominently holds a little sign displaying "class of 2018." We all know that a stuffed animal isn't a priority for your teenager but suddenly Senior year rolls around, and everyone is trying to sell you one. For whatever reason; probably because it says "congratulations, you did it" the unthinkable happens, YOU. MUST. HAVE. ONE.
This just one example of how everything that seemed silly before this twelfth year of high school becomes a NEED for senior year. Then there is the dress for under their graduation gown (you know, the one that no one will see) NEED. 4, yes four, tasseled keychains? NEED. Class of 2018 sweatpants? NEED. Every single school logoed item that exists anywhere? NEED. I am sure you see where this is going.
Companies are smart. They know your son or daughter will want everything that has their graduation year on it because this is (cue dramatic voiceover) THE LAST YEAR. If you ask them, they will likely tell you that this is their last chance to make memories with their friends, because every movie they've seen focuses on how high school is their very last chance to do absolutely anything fun - for the rest of their lives. Everyone that has been there now understands that is simply not true, but your teen can't help but feel this way.
So what does it all mean? It means that Senior year is a big deal, and to that, I totally agree with them. Graduating is a HUGE deal. It's what they have spent most of their lives working toward. For them, this is the end of the familiar road, the end of their routine and the end of their familiar life. After this, they're going to take a pretty big leap, without you as their safety net below.
Luckily, you can see things from the other side, and you understand that they will be just fine. You know that although it can be scary, it isn't nearly so dramatic. There is life (and a lot of it) on the other side of high school. However, there is one thing that both you and your teen can finally agree on; they will never be the same.
*take a break and grab some Kleenex - seriously*
The thing is, that is your kid. You know, the son who tossed you a look before their big event, that said: "I'm way too cool for this but please Mom, I'm begging you, show me it'll all be ok." The look your daughter gave that says, "I screwed up, and I shouldn't care, but I genuinely do, and I need you to give me a hug." Then there is the "If my friends see me I'll never hear the end of it, but I need you to tell me you're proud of me." That is your child.
That kid will now be able to carry their own load. They have a clear understanding that they've handled things before and they can handle whatever else comes their way.
Suddenly they don't need every glance reassured. They don't always need a gentle push to get them where they need to go. They can (kind of) do laundry, feed themselves, keep a schedule, and all the other basics that grown-ups need to do. So where does that leave you? As a parent, what do you do now that you are a little bit less needed?
(Well first, dust yourself off because you will find the new version of yourself too - but that's a talk for a different time)
I mean sure, you joke about your kid living in your basement until they're 30, but what happens when they don't? *kleenex*
All of this is why everything I do is an EXPERIENCE. It's not ONLY about the pictures. Sure, the portraits are beautiful and will be there for you to look at every day that your daughter/son isn't there with you in person, but that's not what all the hype is about, not really. Everything we do at Rebel Soul Photos gives you a chance to spend some significant time with your child before they move on with their own lives- away from you. The time you spend helping plan outfits, going shopping, offering your (seemingly) unwanted opinion, helping to iron or steam clothes, putting outfits on hangers instead of letting them wrinkle in the hamper is time you are building memories for you and your Senior. Taking the time to stop by Starbucks or Dutch Bros on the way to the studio and praying she doesn't spill pink tea on her new white dress are new memories made. Shopping for a variety of outfits so he doesn't show up in sport shorts, is more time together. The experience includes letting them feel pampered as you gladly help carry her shoes or tie his tie. It's giving them one last good look before they step in front of the camera and swallowing the tears as you watch. You both remember all of this when you see the finished images and get your first glimpse of your now grown-up child. *cue more tissues*
No one remembers the stuffed animals that say "Congraduation" but everyone remembers the time spent laughing, eye-rolling, worrying, crying, and the feeling of being proud at their RSP senior session.
They will remember the way you were beaming with pride as you watched, they will remember the smiles and laughs as we create the perfect image. They will remember the tears when you see these pictures for the first time. They will remember how you wanted them to have the perfect senior year. They will remember how you loved watching their joy. They will remember that they had your unspoken support. They will see that you are proud and everything's good.
This is why I do what I do. This is why I say we "create an experience." It's not a shtick or a gimmick, this is what we do for families, for you. Even though your teen will not see you or dad in all of our finished images, they will know you are there just out of frame, and just like in life you will always be close by.
It's an opportunity to have another chance to do something big together, to keep a huge Rolodex of memories that both you and your child can dip into when things get lonely. If there was ever a time for an adventure, it's now. Right as their wings are spreading but right before they take off over that ledge.
Whatever happens next, document it the right way, and make sure that your son or daughter's Senior portraits are an experience worth having.