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“The Terror of Filling Out My Child’s Permission Slip”

For an ADHD mom, there is no such thing as having “good form.”

Forms are the death of the ADHD mama. And every single thing in modern America requires a form, a waiver, a tax document, a permission slip, a notarized form, or a completed physical. As the parent in the family, you are the one who has to fill the form out.

That means several things.

First, you have to remember that the form exists. That’s an important part of the battle. It could be staring googly-eyed at you from the middle of the messy kitchen table (because there’s no other kind), and do that until the end of time if you don’t give it the hairy eyeball and remember, “Junior needs that, so he can go to the Space Center and pretend to be an astronaut.” You can try sticking it on the fridge. You can try taping it to the back of the front door. But any way you slice it, you have to remember it.

Second, you have to keep track of it. The form that starts out on the kitchen table might scoot easily into the trashcan in a fit of manic cleaning. The one stuck to the fridge could migrate to the kitchen counter to the coffee table. The one taped to the back of the front door could come untaped and flutter under god-knows-what.

This is assuming, of course, that the form makes it into the house. We’re a household of people with ADHD. That form has to get into my kid’s hands, into the car, make it out of the car—the place where all papers go to die—and into the house, and placed in a spot where I can find it again and fill it out.

Filled out at some later date, because no self-respecting person with ADHD will fill out a form the same day that she looks at it. Forms need time to mature, like a fine wine. Or, in reality, we’re so terrified of anything that requires us to submit official-looking documents to an official body that we can’t bring ourselves to overcome our terror and so stuff the form somewhere with the good intentions of filling it out at a later date. Forms sure need time to mature. But with a fine wine, not like one.

Then comes the dreaded day. We can’t put it off any longer. Junior is running for the bus (or in my case, the car, because we homeschool). We remember, as I used to say in high school, holy s__tballs, he needs that form/permission slip/waiver/parental signature. So we have to dig up the form, because it’s never in the last place we saw it (maybe we can blame this on the dog, or the ADHD husband who went on a cleaning spree). In a desperate, last-ditch effort, we find the stupid thing. It’s finally located. The baby may have crayoned on it, but it’s located. Deep breaths are taken, which may be borderline hyperventilation, because now we have to fill the stupid thing out.

We will misspell our own child’s name. This always happens. Then we have to scribble it out and look like a ditzy idiot. We will give them their sibling’s birthdate and have to scribble that out, too. As we write the correct one down, we will have to say it aloud: “Twelve-Twenty-Oh-Seven.” Then there’s the other piddling information: height, weight, emergency contact, emergency contact number (hope your phone’s handy, because no one knows that stuff off the top of their head), and your work number. But what if you don’t work? Do you make something up, or just duplicate the home number? The form also asks for your spouse’s work number; you’ve never dialed that because of the magical invention of the 1990s called a cellular phone. So can you just leave that blank, or will that make him/her look like an unemployed slacker?

This is just a child’s permission slip. Imagine what happens when a person with ADHD sits down to do her taxes. If she wants to skip a lot of blood, sweat, and misery, she should just pay someone else to do them for her. In fact, if I could pay someone to stand behind my child, take the forms from all those people passing out forms, fill them out, and hand them back, properly done—my signature forged and all—it would be worth every cent. That is probably illegal, or every person with ADHD would do it. So, until then, we’ll struggle with the tidal wave of bureaucratic paper that threatens to drown us. Just don’t expect me to hand that sucker in on time.

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