A mom shared her daughter's un-smiling school photo and explained why it made her so proud

Ah, the awkward joy of school picture day. Most of us had to endure the unnatural positioning, the bright light shining in our face, and the oddly ethereal backgrounds that mark the annual ritual. Some of us even have painfully humorous memories to go along with our photos.

While entertaining school picture day stories are common, one mom's tale of her daughter's not-picture-perfect school photo is winning people's hearts for a funny—but also inspiring—reason.

Jenny Albers of A Beautifully Burdened Life shared a photo of her daughter on her Facebook page, which shows her looking just off camera with a very serious look on her face. No smile. Not even a twinkle in her eye. Her teacher was apologetic and reassured Albers that she could retake the photo, but Albers took one look and said no way.


Albers wrote:

"Her teacher held the oversized envelope tightly against her chest. She grimaced and said "I'm sorry" upon handing me the packet containing my daughter's first-ever school pictures.

"Retakes are next month," she continued. Her tone was a warning that disappointment awaited.

"They're that bad, huh?" I responded, before lifting the flap to peek inside the envelope.

The teacher gave me a half-nod and said, "we tried."

I assumed my daughter's eyes were closed or her hair had streaks of finger paint in it. Heck, maybe there was even a booger dangling from her nose. I mean, you can't really expect toddlers to stay clean and tidy for more than a fraction of a second.

"Geez, her teacher seems really concerned," I thought, and wondered how a school picture could possibly be THAT awful.

I reluctantly slid one of the photos halfway out of the envelope and whatever concern there had been immediately dissolved.

I laughed. Hard. My heart was overflowing with all the best things at the sight of this image.

"Oh, we won't be needing retakes," I said.

Because this is my daughter. The real her. Eyes open and unamused by whatever nonsense was taking place in front of her.

I imagine she was facing a photographer who was trying to coax her into a feigned smile by waving around a floppy stuffed dog, or making bad jokes, or acting like a total goofball in an attempt to gain her favor.

But really, it was probably the baby talk that caused this expression on her face. Because this child has always met baby talk with utter disdain.

Whatever it was, she will not be made a fool of. Such behavior is beneath her.

She saves her smiles for things that speak to her soul. And there are A LOT of them. Just not school picture day thinly veiled under the façade of fun.

She doesn't do phony.

And that's okay with me.

I just pray she stays that way."

Now that is a fabulous school picture story.

Some kids are just born with an "I don't do b.s." vibe, and when you meet them, it's both refreshing and unnerving. We expect children to be simple and easy to manipulate and eager to please, but they are as diverse as the rest of us, and they are who they are. Hearing about Albers' daughter saving her smiles "for things that speak to her soul" and "school picture day thinly veiled under the facade of fun" not being one of them, and then seeing this photo go along with that description, it's so clear that this kiddo is beyond her years in at least one way. Her face shows what most of us would be thinking if someone tried to talk baby talk to make us smile. But to see that face on a little kid is so funny.

Keep on being you, little miss. And well done, Mama, for celebrating your daughter being comfortable in her own personality and not changing herself to please the random guy with a toy dog and a camera.

Photo courtesy of Capital One
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Growing up in Virginia, Dominique Meeks Gombe idolized her family physician — a young Black woman who inspired Meeks Gombe to pursue her passion for chemistry.

While Meeks Gombe began her career working in an environmental chemistry lab, after observing multiple inefficient processes in and around the lab, she took the initiative to teach herself to code in order to automate and streamline those issues.

That sparked her love for coding and imminent career shift. Now a software engineer at Capital One, Meeks Gombe wants to be a similar role model to her childhood mentor and encourage girls to pursue any career they desire.

"I'm so passionate about technology because that's where the world is going," Meeks Gombe said. "All of today's problems will be solved using technology. So it's very important for me, as a Black woman, to be at the proverbial table with my unique perspective."

Since 2019, she and her fellow Capital One associates have partnered with the Capital One Coders program and Girls For A Change to teach coding fundamentals to middle school girls.

The nonprofit's mission is aimed at empowering Black girls in Central Virginia. The organization focuses on designing, leading, funding and implementing social change projects that tackle issues girls face in their own neighborhoods.

Girls For a Change is one of many local nonprofits that receive support from the Capital One Impact Initiative, which strives to close gaps in equity while helping people gain better access to economic and social opportunities. The initial $200 million, five-year national commitment aims to support growth in underserved communities as well as advance socioeconomic mobility.

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Often, parents of children with special needs struggle to find Halloween costumes that will accommodate medical equipment or provide a proper fit. And figuring out how to make one? Yikes.

There's good news; shopDisney has added new ensembles to their already impressive line of adaptive play costumes. And from 8/30 - 9/26, there's a 20% off sale for all costume and costume accessory orders of $75+ with code Spooky.

When looking for the right costume, kids with unique needs have a lot of extra factors to consider: wheelchair wheels get tangled up in too-long material, feeding tubes could get twisted the wrong way, and children with sensory processing disorders struggle with the wrong kind of fabric, seams, or tags. There are a lot of different obstacles that can come between a kid and the ability to wear the costume of their choice, which is why it's so awesome that more and more companies are recognizing the need for inclusive creations that make it easy for everyone to enjoy the magic of make-believe.

Created with inclusivity in mind, the adaptive line is designed to discreetly accommodate tubes or wires from the front or the back, with lots of stretch, extra length and roomier cut, and self-stick fabric closures to make getting dressed hassle-free. The online shop provides details on sizing and breaks down the magical elements of each outfit and accessory, taking the guesswork out of selecting the perfect costume for the whole family.

Your child will be able to defeat Emperor Zurg in comfort with the Buzz Lightyear costume featuring a discreet flap opening at the front for easy tube access, with self-stick fabric closure. There is also an opening at the rear for wheelchair-friendly wear, and longer-length inseams to accommodate seated guests. To infinity and beyond!

An added bonus: many of the costumes offer a coordinating wheelchair cover set to add a major boost of fun. Kids can give their ride a total makeover—all covers are made to fit standard size chairs with 24" wheels—to transform it into anything from The Mandalorian's Razor Crest ship to Cinderella's Coach. Some options even come equipped with sounds and lights!

From babies to adults and adaptive to the group, shopDisney's expansive variety of Halloween costumes and accessories are inclusive of all.

Don't forget about your furry companions! Everyone loves to see a costumed pet trotting around, regardless of the occasion. You can literally dress your four-legged friend to look like Sven from Frozen, which might not sound like something you need in your life but...you totally do. CUTENESS OVERLOAD.

This year has been tough for everyone, so when a child gets that look of unfettered joy that comes from finally getting to wear the costume of their dreams, it's extra rewarding. Don't wait until the last minute to start looking for the right ensemble!


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