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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.

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Filled out at some later date, because no self-respecting mother 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 kid 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: measurements of how tall they are and how much they weigh, 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.

[Read: 13 Survival Strategies for Moms with ADHD]

4 Comments & Reviews

  1. Thanks for this. I’m in the UK, but it’s very similar here as far as I can tell with school forms.

    I’ve never been diagnosed with ADHD but my middle son has recently been diagnosed at 19 and was told it can be hereditary, and was asked about his parents. It dawned on him that I probably have it, so he came and talked to me about it. I’m 53 and the conversation we had has switched so many lights on for me its unreal.

    Reading your blog about forms was amusing, but I’m exactly like that, also there’s never am empty surface to sit something down, I can never get my washing organised, the house is always untidy. I’ve lived my whole life wondering how everyone else managed to organise their life, feeling pretty hopeless, constantly the butt of jokes but it always seemed like some magic I didn’t understand.
    Sorry this was meant to be just a comment x

  2. The papers that fry and frazzle me the most…my kids’ pediatricians hand me three months worth of ADHD prescriptions, pre-dated. They know I, too, have ADHD. I now have to manage all of these scripts, get them filled on very specific dates (as they are controlled substances), and not lose or forget any of this. There’s gotta be a better way…

  3. Every bit. Is. Me. 😜
    My rule is NO PAPERWORK in the morning. Geez.

    At some point in the school career of our three boys I got smart and created a peel-off label in the computer for those permissions slips. I included the info that was the same for all the boys and was the hardest to fill in on demand before the child is running out the door for the field trip (and before our eyes are open!). I include:
    Insurance Company name
    Name of Insured
    Policy Number
    Insurance No. (xxx)xxx-xxxx
    *Allergy information*

    It is so nice to have these and not have to get out my (gasp) reading glasses to read the tiny info on the insurance card…because I have no idea where those are. Haha!

  4. Thank you so much for this article. I am reading it and both laughing and crying.
    I thought I was the only one who had anxiety around filling out forms. And yes I do pay a professional to do my taxes, even though I secretly do them myself first.
    As far as school forms go, I’ve learned to fill them out as fast as possible and hand them in because this is the only way to get through the anxiety with the least amount of discomfort.
    Congratulations ADHD Moms! We’re getting our kids raised despite all our interesting ways of being! At least they won’t have grown up in a boring household.

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