If the world offered an Olympic sport called “dropping the ball,” I’d have at least 10 gold medals around my neck. I might have addressed this issue here awhile back, but now it’s getting worse.
This is a bad time to be a flub champion. I’m in that phase of life when my sons attract mountains of important paperwork — the kind requiring parental signatures and oversight. The kids are very good at handling their own stuff, but if I’m required to be involved, forget it. One boy is getting ready to go to college, and the other will do the same next year. Now more than ever, life demands my meticulous attention. Ruh-roh.
I keep messing up.
My problem stems from two aversions: forms and deadlines. When I see phrases like “read the following carefully” or “must be submitted by,” I go blank. I stare at the words. Nothing registers. Somehow when I read, “application due,” I instead see “I have a hangnail, I need to buy hand moisturizer and, hey, look at Diane Sawyer doing the evening news with that crooked part again. Why does she always look fabulous with a wacky part?”
Tax season is a painful time to give a shout out to this great sport of ball dropping. Most of us are all formed-out and tired of being adults. But honestly, if you goof with the IRS’s expectations, what’s the worst that could happen? An extension? An audit? Pffft. That’s nothing compared to the damage I can do.
Take, for instance, one of my recent fiascoes. One son was applying to participate in a summer event, which, in retrospect, required more forms and personal shakedowns than joining Seal Team Six. Always responsible, he did his part way ahead of the game. But some things required my input, signatures and all that. I thought I had every document notarized, faxed, scanned, emailed and sprinkled with holy water weeks before deadline. I was feeling smug. I fooled myself into thinking I was finally one of the efficient parents you hear about and admire from afar.
What an idiot to even think that. On the (very strict) deadline day, I accidentally found out some items were missing. I spent an entire morning fixing the situation, calling people, digging up documents and generally spackling some blaring holes that were entirely up to me. That day,“Yakety Sax” became my theme song.
And just the other night, I was in the vicinity of my youngest when he signed up for the SAT. This required my credit card. So nice when they still need you, even if it’s just for a security code. After he filled out the electronic paperwork, he left the room. I overheard him say to my husband, “I’m registered. We didn’t drop the ball, Dad.” I’m sure that was a nod to my recent history.
Knowing I was remotely involved in the process, my husband replied to our son, “Where are you going to take the test? Oklahoma City or Wichita?”
What a comedian.
But he had a point. My family cannot rely on me to be the detail person. If anything, say a camp or tourist attraction, “fills up fast,” we miss it. Several years ago, I remember watching happy families queued up to ascend the Washington Monument. Not us. We just stood there, pointed upwards, and said, “There it is.” I never figure out how to be first in line for anything. We’re always the family clutching Southwest Group C , Section 60 boarding passes.
I hate deadlines, and deadlines hate me. Any institution/company/organization/entity that nudges me into reality with friendly reminders or countdowns is my kind of institution/company/organization/entity. But there aren’t enough of these.
My dream is to one day see an important form with bold print on the bottom with the words, “APPLICATION MUST BE EMAILED OR POSTMARKED BY MAY 1ST—ISH.”