Friday, January 29, 2010

Just stuff your kid in your suitcase and hope for the best.

In order to escape the cold...and also for some other less compelling reasons like family togetherness and shit, we're going to Disney World! Whoo Hoo! But wait! To go to Disney World we need passports. OK fine, I'll get right on it, you know, in a few weeks. Maybe after the holidays. We're not going until the end of April, after all.

I finally got down to business and downloaded the forms from the uber-helpful Service Ontario website and we began the tedious process of getting photos taken, ID photocopied, Guarantors and References signed on and so on and so forth. Then, when everything was in order, we set out for the Passport Office in person so that we could skip the waiting and potential loss of official documents (Birth Certificates) in the mail.

My paperwork went through without a hitch. Fantastic. Adam's signature was too faint. Easy Fix. Then it was Skylar's turn.

"Is this the only birth certificate you have for her?" asks the courteous government employee.

"Yes?" I was under the impression that having multiple birth certificates would be illegal, wouldn't it? "Why no sir. I have a whole bag full of birth certificates right here. Would you prefer her to have a different name? Perhaps a nice Christmas birthday would suit you? I'm afraid she's pretty set on gender."

"You're going to have to get a Long Form birth certificate. You see, these standard ones don't have enough information for us to confirm that you're her parents. You'll have to request a Long Form from the Service Ontario website." He explained and helpfully wrote the address and steps to follow on the top of our form.

"It has to be that form specifically? A copy of the birth Registration or Statement of Live Birth wouldn't be good enough?" Adam asked hopefully.

"No, this wouldn't be something you're likely to have at home. You have to request it from the government."

I went home and got online, wondering why Service Ontario didn't tell me I needed this form the first time I was here. Then I followed the directions given to me by my friend at the Passport Office and soon found out that he'd clearly never been to this site and had no idea what the hell he was talking about. There was no such frigging thing as a Long Form Birth Certificate.

So I clicked "Contact Us" and asked the invisible person on the other side of the web where I might find a Long Form Birth Certificate. The eventual reply was that what I was looking for was actually called a "Certified Copy of Birth Registration." Fine. Fuck You, Passport Guy.

I went back to stupid Service Ontario and went through the paces to order a Certified Copy of Birth Registration. I was alright with answering questions pertaining to my own name and where I was born, but then the questions got harder. They wanted to know crazy things like the attending physician's name. So I got Skylar's Statement of Live Birth out of my files and found that, luckily it contained all of the pertinent information. I finished the form and payed with a credit card and breathed a sigh of relief that it was all sorted out and then I promptly called my cousin, who would be travelling with us, and told her she'd better get one of these Long Form Birth Certificate/Certified Copy of Registration thingies for her daughter too. Then I forgot about it for a few weeks.

Do you know where I'm going with this yet?

Today I got a letter from the office of the Registrar General. Yay! This must be the Certified Copy of Birth Registration! No, it was a note telling me I had underpaid them by $10.00 and asking me to please pay up in order for my request to be processed. The fuck? I paid online. I paid exactly the amount you asked for. Why do I owe you $10? So I called the number at the top of the page and wended my way through the robots who answered until I was directed to the best possible person to handle my enquiry. The following transcript of our conversation may not be exactly verbatim:

Me- I ordered a Certified Copy of Birth Registration for my kid and now I get a note asking for more money. What up wit that?

Girl- Oh, you must have paid for a first copy when what you wanted was a replacement.

Me- Nuh uh. I don't have one, and I need one so we can get a passport.

Her- Our records indicate one was issued in 2004.

Me- Your records are full of shit. The one area in which I am organized is where it pertains to my kids legal type papers. I am all over that shit.

Her- Are you sure? It's a yellow sheet of paper with a seal type thingy in the corner and at the top it says Statement of Live Birth.

Then my head exploded.

Me- Statement of Live Birth? I HAVE a fucking Statement of Live Birth. That's where I got the information I needed to apply for the fucking Certified Copy of Birth Registration/Long Form Birth Certificate. Nowhere on my Statement of Live Birth does it say anything about Registration or Birth Certificate. Why in God's name doesn't the web site tell you that when applying for a Passport for a child you will require a Birth Certificate and a Goddammedmotherfucking Statement of Live Birth? Why did the douchebag at the passport office tell me that this was something I didn't have? Why doesn't the website say that a Long Form Birth Certificate (aka Certified Copy of Birth Registration) would in fact have a great big heading at the top of the page proclaiming it to be a Cocksuckingshitencrustedpusspewingcunt Statement of Live Birth!?

You know what, it's fine. Ive got one and that's what matters. Sorry to bother you. I'll just take the Statement of Live Birth I have here in my hand and get my kid's passport and all will be well.

Her- I'm sorry, once you apply for a replacement the original is no longer valid.

Me- What? But they refused to issue me a new one because they want another ten bucks.

Her- But it's already in the system. The one you have will be invalid and you won't be able to get a passport with it. You'll have to send the ten dollars and wait for the new one.

Me- I have to send another ten dollars, bringing my total up to forty-five dollars, for a form that I already have? Well that sucks. So can I just go back to that shit-hole Service Ontario site and add the $10 to my previous order?

Her- No, we don't offer that service online.

Me- Why the hell not? They already have my credit card information and clearly some sort of primitive banking capabilities, so why not just...

Her- I'm sorry, you'll have to fill out the form in the message you received by mail and then mail it back to us like it's the fucking dark ages before the advent of all this brilliant technology that lets us ass rape you for forms you've already got because that way we make way more money than we ever would if we pulled our heads out of our twats and asked for things by their correct titles and then told you to bring those same things when you wanted to apply for things that you need so that you can take your kid to the happiest fucking place on earth.

Me-How long?

Her-About 8 weeks.

Eight weeks takes us close to April. If you felt I might be a wee bit testy today, just imagine how pleased I'll be if we miss our vacation because we had to wait for a form that I had all along. This is why people blow up Government buildings folks.* This is exactly why.

*Disclaimer: I'm not going to blow anything up. Seriously, forget I said that. The last thing I need is to straighten all this shit out only to be shot at the airport for uttering death threats. But I did fill out the "Rate Our Service Today" survey on fucking Service Ontario very harshly.

P.S. I just called my cousin to let her know that I may have instructed her to do something really stupid and she said thanks for the heads up, but she really DIDN'T already have that form and it arrived 2 days after she applied for it. Yeah: 2 days for a new form, 8 weeks to replace the one you already have. Fuck you Service Ontario, Fuck you.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Have I mentioned my hatred of winter?

I was a good mom today, if I do say so myself. This is worth mentioning because lately I honestly have not been.

It's winter up here in the godforsaken North and that really brings out the worst in me. I abhor cold. I loathe cold. I can't think of a word vile enough to express my dislike of cold. Cold makes my bones hurt. Cold makes me tired. Cold makes me a hateful bitch. I hate having to wear bulky layers of clothes. I hate wet socks and snowsuits and toddlers screaming because their fingers are cold and they won't keep their damned mittens on. I hate the pissy grey sunshine. I hate the wind whistling through the cracks in my house. I hate being afraid to drive. I hate getting out of my warm bed in the mornings so much that my kid is late for school pretty much every single day. I hate walking the dog. I hate the noisy squirrels living in my roof, I hate the dead, black skeletal trees. I hate the filthy slushy mud. I hate the dark that seems to fall just after noon. I hate scraping ice off of my car, but not as much as I hate dragging a sled or wrestling a stroller over snowbanks or carrying a 30 pound child in 50 pounds worth of outerwear or trying to coax that same child to please for the love of god walk faster, and straighter, and without stopping to climb every mound and taste every clump so that we can get wherever the hell we're going and get inside again. I hate lying awake all night because my feet are frozen and I can't sleep until they thaw out and they won't thaw out for hours.

I remember being excited about snow when I was a kid. I know I used to have fun building snowmen and forts and going tobogganning, but there is not a single trace of those feelings left. I have played outside with my children exactly 3 times since November. Instead I stay inside and lay on the couch drifting in and out of sleep all day. I let my kids watch entirely too much television and I yell at them constantly to be quiet, or calm down, or go play somewhere else, or stop making a mess, or quit bugging the dog, or stop fighting, or close the frigging door, or get their own damn juice or...

But today I was good. Today we made crafts together (paper snowflakes of all things) and I pulled my girls around the living room by the hands while they each stood on one roller skate. I got 7 loads of laundry done and cleaned the floor and did 2 loads of dishes and still had time to build a stable out of Mega Blocks and read a story and tickle them until they turned purple. I sent them out to play in the yard and watched them having fun through the window. Maybe tomorrow I'll go out with them. I didn't yell or order a single time-out. I laughed and I smiled and I stayed awake all day long.

See, my eldest daughter is 6 now and somehow she's become literate. She loves to read and write all the time and the phrase she writes most often is "I love mom." I want to deserve that. I want her to remember a mom who played with her and listened to her and enjoyed spending time with her instead of a mom who yelled and bitched and was lazy as hell. So I'm trying. I have to work hard at it, because some days it seems as though every single thing that child does or says is calculated specifically to annoy the living crap out of me. But I am trying, and I was good today.

Monday, January 4, 2010

HI, I'm still alive! I know, you were worried right?

Sooo...where were we...early November. Shit. OK something must have happened since then huh?

We went to a play. An English Pantomime to be specific. My mom has some mobility issues, so she's decided that it will be her role to enrich my children's lives through the magic of live theatre since taking the girls ice skating, tobogganing, skiing, or anything else that requires walking, running, standing or any other kind of movement is pretty much out.

When she told me she'd bought these tickets I've got to admit that the words "English Pantomime" made me think of a mime with bad teeth, but it turned out to be a really hysterical production of Robin Hood where you get to yell at the actors and boo the bad guys (one of whom was portrayed by Major Bedhead from the Big Comfy Couch, parents will know who I'm talking about) and featuring some new characters like the drag queen Nurse and Larry the Snow Fairy. The kids loved it. Even Eden sat through the entire thing without getting squirmy or bored.

After the show Major Bedhead (who probably has a real name, but who really cares? Besides him I guess, and maybe his mother) called a few kids up on stage for some audience participation game type things and Skylar was one of the chosen few. As she took her place on stage he complimented her elegant dress and she responded by picking her tights out of her crotch. As he went on down the line asking names (and making fun of them) Eden noticed that Skylar was up on stage and there followed an intense wrestling match with her father as Adam tried to prevent her from running up to join her sister. Eventually the two year old kicked his ass and made a break down the aisle towards the stage. Skylar saw this and started yelling to Major Bedhead
"My sister! My sister wants to come up too!"

Since the Major knows entertainment value when he sees it, he helped Eden crawl up onto the stage and everyone "Awww"d as she took her sister's hand. Then the two of them stood there beaming and waving and ignoring instructions until the interlude was done and candy was distributed to one and all. As we walked out of the theatre they were graciously applauded and hailed as the stars of the show.

Next year's show is Peter Pan.