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Monday, January 31, 2011

Stress Test

By Jody Worsham,

All rights reserved for Goodyear Jeans

There is a lot of stress in raising a five year old and a nine year old when you are looking seventy in the face, but I thought I was handling it pretty well, at least until recent times.

Just before Christmas my husband won a $250 gift card in a drawing. I should have been the winner since I inadvertently dropped his entry into the hopper instead of mine. I quickly confiscated the gift card and just as quickly lost it.

A week or so after Christmas I finally wore out the band to the dinner ring he gave me thirty years ago. After snagging the broken band on a towel I thought it best if I removed the ring before I lost it. The ring had only left my finger once before when I had the stones tightened. Remembering the lost gift card, I decided to put the ring in the safe…I think. Later when I went to retrieve the ring and take it to the jewelers, I couldn't find it.

The children asked why I was crying. I told them I lost my ring. The next day the nine-year-old told all her friends I had lost it. They told her not to worry; their mothers "lost it" all the time. They wrote me a sweet note saying they were sorry I was losing it.

I put the ring and gift card incidents aside and focused on more immediate things. Updating the children's passports. The five-year-old no longer looks like his eighteen-month-old passport picture which subjected us to lengthy questioning by the Customs people last summer after our cruise.

First I got on line to see what was needed. As usual, nothing referred to renewing passports for minors. I grabbed a pair of jeans, laid on the bed so I could zip them up and headed for the courthouse.

I have not set foot in a courthouse since we adopted the children four years ago. Had I known the security guard was going to rummage through my purse, I would have a) gathered up all my loose change b) taken the extra pair of underwear out and left them in the car c) put the 1,000 Wal-Mart receipts in an envelope and d) renewed my "Support your Local Sheriff" membership.

"Where do you need to go?" she asked with her hand resting on her gun holster.

"To the passport renewal desk," I answered with my hand resting on my heart.

"Second counter on your left." As I gathered my things back in my purse and headed for the second counter on my left, I noticed she was following me. I kept thinking, "This woman is not one of "Charlie's Angels". This woman could handle Alcatraz." I was so paranoid I stopped at the first counter as I heard her footsteps thundering behind me. "Ma'am, the next counter." "Oh, thank you and I scurried on with the footsteps still following…and gaining. "Ma'am" and she got right behind me and said quietly in her low powerful voice "I don't mean to embarrass you but you've split the back out of your jeans." "Thank you," I muttered pulling off my jacket and tying it around my waist.

I explained to the clerk, who was snickering, that I needed renewal passport forms for the children. "Just take these, fill them out and put them in the mail." I hurried past the security guard and headed for home.

I looked at the forms then called the National Passport Information hot line for more information. These were the wrong forms. Back to the courthouse, well after changing jeans. This time I left my purse in the car but I forgot to change from my very distinctive Disney World zip up hoodie. Yes, the same security guard was there and yes I know she was scrutinizing my backside as I once again made it to the second counter. "Oh," said the district clerk when I told her she had given me the wrong forms. "Then you will need this".

With correct forms in hand I returned home to fill them out. First instruction: You must have two of the following A) valid driver's license. Nope. Five and nine year olds cannot drive. B) voter registration. Nope, can't vote only watch campaign commercials. C) Student ID Nope, kindergarten and fourth grade do not issue ID's. E) Valid work card. Nope, setting the table and making your bed does not require a work card." Back to the phone. The National Passport Information 1-800 number is now on my speed dial and they know me by name. "No, none of those are required; however, all four of you must appear before the district clerk with old passports and with the required funds," he said.

With children and hubby in tow, it was back to the courthouse. Just in case the same security guard was there, I changed shirts. To be on the safe side, I took the large briefcase containing social security cards, court ordered adoption papers, shot records, report cards, birth certificates, baby pictures, pulled baby teeth, Christmas card with family photo, little league trophies, newspaper clippings about the recent fishing tournament they won, DVD of last year's ballet recital, and their handprints I had received for Mother's Day I years past. I also carried our framed marriage license, hubby's old draft card, my teaching certificate, and our tax records for the past 50 years. The security guard had fun going through all that.

I walked confidently to the second counter having committed the location to memory, and wearing a different shirt, different jeans, and with my little red wagon full of documentation to prove I am who I am and they are who they say they are. We paid the fees and now must wait for our passports.

Oh, the stress…and to think I have to do this all over again in five years…but next time I'll start out wearing bigger jeans… made by Goodyear.


Sharon said...

Hilarious, Jody,
I'm going to have to think about this seriously before I update mine (last issued in 1987) and get a pair of goodyear jeans. Since I don't have a Disney hoody, I'll have to make do with my Busch Gardens fleece jacket.

Jody Worsham said...

Just so you're "covered".

Marti said...

I have never had a passport! But I have had just as much trouble with other government documents. Very funny piece - as always!