Tuesday, February 21, 2017

5 ESSENTIAL Things I Filled Out on Forms for Day Camp

I once signed my kids up for summer day camp.   Little did I know that in doing so, I surrendered nearly an hour of my life to form completion. Blissfully unaware of the impending task, I registered online, paid by credit card, and figured that would be that.


As the start date approached, the camp director called looking for my kids' day camp packets. I didn't have the faintest idea what she was talking about. Packets? 

Yes, she explained, the packet of forms that she needed for each of my three children to attend day camp. 

Ah, yes, the forms. We were members. We had played soccer, basketball, and even took a kids yoga class through this facility. Each of these activities came with its own set of laborious forms. So, when I explained to her, I had already done them for our membership activities I figured that would be that.

Wrong again.

There were multitudinous additional forms needed specifically for Day Camp. I tried to protest but quickly understood the futility. No forms? No day camp. No day camp meant no time for quiet, focused work and instead meant kids interrupting me hour after hour, day after day, week after week while I tried to meet publication and client deadlines. I shuddered. 

Without any other option, I downloaded the forms from the site and printed them. No, I couldn't do them online, and no, there isn't an app for that. I asked. 

When the printer ran out of paper, I realized that the "packet" of forms might be better described as a "booklet" as the number of pages had already soared into the double digits. My initial reaction was to punt and skip day camp altogether, but then I remembered how much fun holiday vacation had been a few short months ago. I didn't relish reviving my role as the screen time police and refereeing stupid arguments about whose turn it was to pick up the Uno cards.

Needless to say, I got to work on three sets of packets of mostly double-sided forms. 

Right out of the gates, I felt irritated. They asked for my home, work, and mobile number at the top of the first form. To be fair, this request for multiple numbers comes up a lot, e.g. at the doctor's office, school, and (inexplicably) the oil change place. However, the frequency of its utterance does not alter the fact that it's an old query. If you want to call someone and you don’t go with the mobile, maybe you shouldn't be in charge of making phone calls anymore. 

Despite my annoyance, I complied; I wrote the same one three times, which in my case is honesty, not facetiousness. Turns out, the telephone number lines were just the beginning.

Here are five ESSENTIAL things I had to fill out on the forms:
  • Disclosure about whether my daughter had an abnormal menstrual history: Okay, no, because she's six...but what is going on at Day Camp that my daughter’s menses needs to be on their radar anyway?

  • Whether or not my children have ever had problems with diarrhea or constipation: At the risk of revealing too much, who hasn’t? In a giddy bout of sarcasm, I relished explaining it to them in literary detail. Ultimately, I decided against writing yes and attaching my three-page essay called, ‘Mom! I Just Peed out My Butt.’”

  • Medication information for my kids that don't take medication: Listen, if your child has prescriptions they need to take, then, by all means, fill out the form. But if not, is it necessary to fill out the whole home address and three phone numbers lines again just to write, NO MEDS on it? Only if you want your kids to go to day camp.

  • Permission to use sunscreen: I conceded the "Authorizing Use of Sunscreen" form was legitimate because of allergies until I read, “I authorize the staff to directly apply the sunscreen to my child.” I wanted to say no just so I could learn how one applies sunscreen indirectly. Do they squirt it in the air tell the kids to walk through it? 

  • A big fat lie: The "Release and Waiver of Liability and Indemnity Agreement" is where you say you won't sue if your child gets seriously injured or killed on day camp's watch. Let’s be clear, day camp, if you seriously injure or kill my child, a lawsuit might be the least of your worries. 
This packet had the reek of lawyer all over it.  It was long. It was wordy. It was needlessly redundant. And it was just ironclad enough that you would likely think twice before pursuing a lawsuit should something go wrong (heaven forbid). 

The fact is the forms are what makes day camp possible. If it meant that I could get some work done over the summer "vacation," I would have jumped through whatever hoops you put in front of me.  And apparently, that included form packets that produce enough carbon footprint and deforestation to make Al Gore get his panties in a twist and me to wear shorts in February. 

Day camp planning is just around the corner. I can hardly wait for the camp or the forms. In fact, I am just finishing up the editing on my new essay called, "Why ISN'T there an App for this yet?"

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

My Life Writes Its Own Punchlines

I have said before and I will say it again: Sometimes life writes its own punchlines. Here are a few my life has written for me.

Son: Mom! She just called me a butthole.

Me: Did you just call your brother a butthole?”

Daughter: Yes.

Me: Where did you learn that word? Did you learn the word from [naughty kids whom I blame for her corruption]?”

Daughter: No. I already knew the word butthole. I learned it from him (pointing at brother). He was naked and he bent over and pointed at it and said, "See? This is my butthole."

Me: Awesome.


The bathroom door opens.

Son: Mom? Is Gollum's real name Smeagol?

Me: Yes. Now can mama please have a little privacy?

Son: Sure.

The bathroom door closes. 

The bathroom door opens again. 

Son: Mom? Where do we keep the privacy?


"If there is a boy dog puppy, you can legally say it's a son-of-a-bitch." 


While both admiring my Christmas mug.

Son: Who painted that?

Me: I don't know. I don't think it's hand painted.

A thoughtful pause ensues. 

Son: Is it foot-painted?


"When I am 20, I want to be a rockstar. When I am 30, I want to be a policeman. When I am 100, I want to be a giant."


Son: So, Mom, what did the scale say?

Me: Too much.

Son: 160?

Me: No.

Son: 165?

Me: No.

Son: 200, then?

Me: Please stop guessing.


"So, Mom? Did you see The Wizard of Oz when it first came out?"


Daughter:  The moon is God's eye looking at us.

Me: Does that mean when the moon is not out, He's not looking?

Daughter: No, He's just looking in France.


Enter an enterprising young woman at the nail salon for a long overdue pedicure.

Her: Eyebrow wax?

Me: Um...yeah, sure. Thanks!

Her: Do you want me to take care of the chin, too?


"Mommy, you smell like vanilla. Daddy, you smell like old man."


While tagging lollipops for Valentine's day for the class...

Daughter: The one that says "Yes!" is the best one to give to a boy."

Me: Go to your room. 

Daughter: What?! For how long?

Me: Until you are married.


Son: Mom? Do you lay an egg inside your tummy and it grows into a baby and then it hatches out?”

Me: --

Son: Mom? Do you?

Me: Yep.


Daughter: I feel bad for kids that are named Dick. 

Me: Oh?

Daughter: What's a dick?

Me: Um...it's slang for penis. 

Daughter: WHAT? Now I feel worse for them.

Me: Then...why did you feel bad for them before?

Daughter: Because they were named after a whale. 


Son: "Mom? What did you do before TV was invented?"

Me:  I hunted dinosaurs.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

7 Steps for Battling the Stomach Flu at 3am

A tentative hand on my forearm woke me. I opened one eye. The nightlight illuminated the wary expression my oldest son wore. Since I tend to wake on the grouchy side, I knew whatever prompted him to brave rousing me was probably not good.

“He threw up.”

So not good. My open eye shifted to the projected time on the ceiling: 2:40 a.m.  Because, of course. Stomach flu never happens at 2:40 in the afternoon. It has a pact with the smoke alarm batteries.

I rose from my cocoon of high thread count luxury and prepared myself. It isn’t my first rodeo with overnight illness. Luckily, I have a 7-step program for battling the stomach flu.

Step One: Don’t swear.
Middle-of-the-night-vomit scenes rate alongside impromptu children’s wall murals with poop as a medium. This one didn't disappoint; it was as nasty as you can imagine. I resisted the impulse to swear, out loud, anyway. The inside of my head, on the other hand, was an uncensored Yosemite Sam rant.

Step Two: Breathe through your mouth.
My youngest suffers bewilderment when he throws up (he gets that from me). The first time he puked, he cried, "I made applesauce in my mouth!" To be fair, it is a surprisingly accurate description. While the calming of the patient is instinctive, breathing through your mouth is not. My advice: do it right from the start, or you’ll make some applesauce of your own.

Step Three: Bag and Gag.
Survey Ground Zero and make a recovery plan. This incident involved every bit of the bedding and carpet next to my older son’s bed. Remove the chunks using a disposable grocery bag as a glove, or what I call the “Bag and Gag” maneuver.

Step Four: Restore order.
Once you recover from step three, reset the scene. Remove the soiled items. Put on clean bedding and pajamas, and rinse the patient’s mouth with water. If you time it right, you might be able to skip the next three steps and head back to bed. Just don’t rush it. If you do, you’ll need to proceed to step five.

I rushed it.

Step Five: Contain the spatter zone.
The ideal contamination zone should be limited to the bathroom. Regrettably, during round two, I limited it to the front of my pajamas (Remember step one.) I made my way to the bathroom employing a bent-leg-squat-trudge in an attempt to transport the contaminants without leaving a trail. By the time I got there, he was all done. Because, again, of course.

Step Six: Don’t be a hero.
Don’t be afraid to call in for backup, if it’s available. Up to this point, my spouse remained blissfully unaware of the carnage transpiring outside. So, I bent-leg-squat-trudged back down the hall and threw open our bedroom door with a huffy-hands-on-hips “Hey!” Mission accomplished. He was up.

Step Seven: Split duty.
Now that you have backup use it wisely. My husband took the patient; I took the cleanup. Around 4 a.m., our son was passed out on the full inventory of my linen closet spread in a radius usually reserved for DIY paint projects.

I recognize the 7-step plan isn’t perfect. Various factors have a significant influence on the outcome of your stomach flu event, not the least of which are a spouse’s travel schedule or a genetic propensity for sympathetic vomiting. However, when followed, the seven steps can get you through it with minimal retching and emotional scarring.

When we had climbed back into our bed, battle weary and disinfected, we were too tired for retching or scarring. There is a silver lining, however. In what can only be described as an oddly romantic moment of understanding, my husband patted my freshly scrubbed hand and said, “Well, at least you get a post out of this.”