Tuesday, August 08, 2006

S is for Sorry

Today was the day I had to take the boys to school to register. As a model of inefficiency, I was made to fill out duplicate forms for two kids with the same parents, address, phone numbers, insurance information, emergency numbers, etc. The only differences between them are their social security numbers, ages and grades. But the bureaucracy that is Memphis City Schools needs to have as many forms as possible to look at and hold and rub all over themselves. While I was filling out form after form (times two), C, JP and S busied themselves chasing each other around the lunchroom, pinching, hitting and generally bugging the hell out of each other as loudly as possible. I threatened and threatened, but to no avail. After filling out the many forms (times two), I was told they needed to see JP's birth certificate, which I didn't have. I didn't have it because the Memphis City Schools website did not list it as a required document to bring to registration. So, I had to take these three kids to the Shelby County Health Department to get a certified copy and prove that JP was, in fact, born.

Now, I don't know where many of you people are from...actually, I do, thanks to statcounter.com. You're from such far away and exotic locales as Blacksburg, VA; Oak Harbor, WA; Arvada, CO; Fleetwood, PA; and internationally from France, the UK, Australia, and even Vietnam. And I don't know what your health departments are like, or if you even have one, but I can tell you that Shelby County boasts a block long Petri dish festering with flu, STDs, West Nile and the people in which they fester. You know by now how I feel about bathrooms and the excreta that necessarily attaches itself to children, so you can imagine how I felt about taking my kids to the health department. It doesn't help that the Gorgons in charge of stirring up this kettle of germs is kin to the very bureaucracy that controls the Memphis City Schools. But we parked a block away and walked in the 105-degree heat index to stand in the endless line for the birth certificate. It was almost time for Kristy to go to lunch, so I called her to come by and pick up the kids from this cootie swamp. Or, I tried to call, but cell phones don't work inside the building, I found out - it must be the funk-incrusted walls. I had to send C outside to call her. In the meantime, S wouldn't leave JP alone, and he ran around me trying to escape her until I'd had enough and snatched her up, grabbed him by the hand and we left, without the certificate. Tempers flared in the heat and, to be honest, the episode wasn't a model for parent/child relationships.

It weighs on me when discipline is meted out swiftly and without much thought - I find it counterproductive. We went straight home and everyone was separated. Kristy came home to get the kids and take them back to work with her, as we had planned. So everyone ate lunch and then they left, but as they were leaving I told the kids to behave with their mother, and S stopped at the door, turned, smirked at me and shot me the thumbs up. All was forgiven, on both sides.