Permission slip

Somewhere in the division of household labour, the responsibility of filling out all school permission forms has fallen to me, the parent with illegible handwriting.

This wouldn’t be so bad if back to school paperwork didn’t amount to more stress than the collection of receipts at income tax time, with an equally terrifying need to do math. Boo.

My favourite moment of the school year so far was day one, when the boy child gallantly dropped a stack of colourful paperwork on the kitchen table, smiling like a Cheshire Cat and announcing, “I don’t have homework, but you do” (I may have to reinstate wedgies in our home, a previously-banned act).

When his older sister returned home from her school an hour later, she came with her own stack of forms which then had to be separated into piles so as not to confuse my homework. This pattern of paperwork followed day after day and well into week two, and I suspect we’re not done yet. I ran out of tacks and fridge magnets to keep the papers organized.

Of course, this information overload triggered my obsessive-compulsive need to revamp the colour-coordinated fridge calendar while at the same time short-circuiting my attention-deficit neurosis.

With a handful of brightly coloured pens in one hand and my Blackberry set to calendar mode in the other, I tried to do the impossible: coordinate the lives of my children. 

Thank goodness the Carpenter and I don’t have social lives of our own, or personal interests like healthy hobbies or careless free time, because I’m not sure what coloured pen I’d use to eek out a spot in the month. Maybe I could use blue, the deep shade I use to transcribe our pre-posted bill bank withdrawals. That would only serve to remind us that we couldn’t afford to do anything anyway. Sigh.

My arm cramped up writing two different schools cheques for everything from food and drink orders, to gym gear and field trips. I post-dated myself so far ahead that I have entered into a game of Russian roulette with not one, but two banking institutions. After a while, the ADD took over and I got distracted, wondering how I was going to fit hockey schedules and play rehearsals into the mix – so much so that I don’t actually know what I signed or if I put the right child’s name on the appropriate school forms. Here’s hoping.

I think I may have checked a few wrong boxes here and there, but the one I was careful not to tick off was the volunteer parent role for school trips. I need a full-time job just to keep these kids in school, oh and to pay my taxes to keep them in school. Public education is free, right? Ha.

One morning, I was too stressed with the umpteen form to notice that someone left plum sauce droppings on the kitchen table and didn’t bother to wipe it up. So now those particular forms double as a chicken-finger dipping palette. I can only imagine the look on the teachers’ faces.

Not only do they have to file eight billion sheets of paper every day, but now they will be disgusted by my children’s sticky entries and my incoherent penmanship. Epic fail.

Now to pack the litterless lunch. Are we having fun yet?


Kelly Waterhouse