It took me six hours to complete the paperwork process.
The packet had four appendices and required two extra attachments.
There were six sections, with 15 questions in each section.
It required me digging up last year’s income taxes, as well as taxes from the year before that.
Then we had to make income projections, for the both of us, and then income projections for each of us individually.
Has your income changed?
Will it change?
Do you have any other sources of income?
OK, that wasn’t a question, but they were detailed questions.
It was a beautiful day, and I was stuck at the dining room table, paging through old documents.
How many surgeries? How many hospital stays? How many therapists? How many medications?
Ok, fair enough, that wasn’t a question either.
Felt like it could have been.
He tries to crawl up into my chair, climb into my lap, press buttons on my computer.
I can't play.
He just wants to play with me and press buttons.
I give him the remote control.
Ten minutes later, it’s gone.
We will never see that remote control again.
A copy of our health insurance.
A copy of our prescription card.
A copy of my driver’s license.
A copy of my husband’s license.
A coupon for $5.00 off a dog haircut.
Three hours in I passionately wanted to write our social worker an email; someone should let her know this was an absolute hot mess of a process and we needed to get the government to understand how difficult it is for parents to fill out this much paperwork for special needs care for children.
(I surfed Facebook for fifteen minutes instead. I watched a video about a dog and a deer being friends. It was pretty funny.)
Five hours into the paperwork I wasn't seeing straight.
My pen died.
I searched for a new pen.
It was scented and the ink was orange.
It was black, orange, and stained with coffee, but it was complete.
Triumphant, I picked up the phone and dialed the office where the paperwork was to be sent.
“Hello, this is Dave, ID 6447. Can you spell your name, first and last, give me your date of birth, email, and your phone number in case we are disconnected.”
“Uh, can I just ask someone a question?”
“After you spell your name, first and last, give me your date…”
“That’s weird. We don’t have you in our system.” Dave sounds incredulous, as if I can’t exist as a human if I’m not in the system.
“I wouldn’t be in the system yet. I just finished my paperwork today.”
(I know it’s ridiculous, but I thought, just for a moment, that when I said that I had finished the packet, he might cheer or play a little horn or some type of fanfare. Nothing.)
“So, Dave, I just wanted to let you know that I’ll be faxing my packet in to the number on the form. Should I put it to someone’s attention?”
“We don’t have a fax machine.”
The heck you don’t.
They needed to find an intern, send him down to the storage room, have him bring back the stupid machine, dust it off, and plug it in.
“Ma’am, I’m sorry. We no longer have a fax machine. The number has been removed on the new form. You’ll need to go online and submit the packet that way.”
“But, but the office gave me a paper packet to fill out.”
“I thought I had the most recent form.”
“Is there anything else I can help you with?” Dave asks.
I look over the piles of paper on the dining room table, the blue finger paint stains on the carpet, the dishes on the counter, the open markers on the couch, and the Kinetic sand my son is dumping into his pants.
I figure he’s going to wish me a good day.
I figure he’s going to ask me to complete a customer service survey.
I don’t expect him to say what he says next.
“Uh, ma’am? I know it’s a lot of work. You’re doing a great job. ”
Leave it up to Dave, ID 6447, to make my eyeballs sweat like that.
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