Tuesday, August 27, 2013

To Whom It Concerns at My Son's New Middle School

If you do not find Excitable’s name on your sixth-grade class list, it's not for lack of trying.

school-busI attempted to register him at least two and a half times.

And in two languages.

When the forms arrived in our mail this spring, I diligently verified the home address and phone numbers printed on them as instructed. They were correct, according to the phone book, as that's where I needed to check since I received the forms for someone else's boy at a different school.

In all fairness, the school also sent me a form with the right information on it. Behind the other boy's sheet I found one addressed to my son. In Spanish.

But that's why we have Google Translate.

In May, I brought the requisite multiple forms of proof of residency and my sworn allegiance to the Common Core Standards to middle-school registration day but was turned away because I didn't have his doctor-approved physical exam and immunization records yet.

"But the insurance company wouldn't let me schedule his checkup until August," I told the school nurse, who quickly gave me a copy of August dates when I could register him at city hall. Only two dates listed weren't when our family was on vacation.

Months passed. The physical came and went well outside of the pediatrician's reminder to my son that "you don't have to like vegetables, you just have to eat them." On the appointed day I drove to city hall with his medical records, bilingual contact form and necessary DNA cheek swabs.

But not my driver's license. I realized this halfway there.

Stay-puft-marshmallow-man.jpgAfter a vaguely legal U-turn and another 20 minutes, I arrived to a jammed government center lobby. It contained one set of frustrated people waiting to register their incoming kindergartners and a second, unaffiliated set of frustrated people wanting to get upstairs to testify before the zoning board against a harbor development plan. The air felt thick with enough negative energy to resurrect the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from "Ghostbusters."

At risk of strangulation from those vacantly staring parents waiting for the number on their index cards to be called, I sidled up to a table and asked what I should do.

"Oh, middle school? Just give me your child's medical information and someone will call you tomorrow," the worker said.

"You don't need my driver's license? Property tax bill? I can quickly acquire blood samples, too."

Nope, just the medical forms, she said.

I left, confused but relieved. A day passed, and then most of another before my cell phone rang.

Could I bring all the necessary ID forms to city hall tomorrow? "But we're leaving for vacation early tomorrow. We're not back until the day before school starts," I said.

After nixing other options ("No, my wife is going on vacation with us. So is our dog."), the official said my sister could submit the paperwork provided she brought a copy of my driver's license. I felt confident about this because my sister is reliable. She also took enough college Spanish to translate
my son's forms.

Not to my surprise, while partaking in a late afternoon gimlet upon the beach house deck, my sister called to say the person she turned the registration forms into now couldn't find any of Excitable’s medical information. At least the burning acid sensation rising up my gullet had a nice limey edge.

So, dear middle school officials, that's why my son, Excitable, may not be on your list. However, if you don't find him in on the premises at all, he probably just took the wrong bus and instead ended up at one of the high schools.

His sister already set that precedent a few years ago.


  1. That u-turn was only perhaps less vaguely legal than you thought since you didn't have your license at the time.

  2. We get so frustrated (read: pissed off) when all the technological crap we rely on suffers it's gliches...it's a relief to know good old fashioned humans mess up too.
    Good luck in Middle School!

    1. And there are many a screw-up downtown. Good news - they survived.

  3. Replies
    1. Bet you miss those good old school days with your kid, right? Wait ... college is coming up, right? I withdraw the comment.

  4. You don't happen to live near me, because that sounds vaguely (read: exactly) like the way our school corporation is run.

    1. As Twain said, "God made the Idiot for practice, and then He made the School Board."


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