Let me just start by saying that on Friday afternoon, the only direction my weekend could possibly go was UP, because falling any lower was impossible.
As in, I was as low as a snake’s belly in a wagon rut by 4:00 that day.
On Friday morning, it came to my attention that our family really has no idea where the boy’s social security card is.
No. Idea. Because OF COURSE. Apparently, we are THAT FAMILY… the one who loses legal documents and goes ahead and dries shirts with giant grease stains in the dryer before we even know what has happened.
For the most part, all important paperwork like that is kept in our little safe, where they are protected from bandits, fires and small pox outbreaks. For some reason, the boy’s card wasn’t in our lockbox on Friday, and there just aren’t a lot of other places where we would store that sort of thing at our house. The bathroom linen closet with the hair gel? Nope. The refrigerator, next to the soy sauce? Not there, either. The top drawer of my bedside table, with the tangled mess of thirty necklaces that Thing 2 has stirred around? Not even there.
I imagine the truth is that Black Bart broke into our home, swiped the boy’s social security card, and has stolen my son’s identity, all because Ralphie was suffering from soap poisoning and was unable to peg the outlaw with his Red Ryder BB gun. We’ll probably realize this is the case when the boy goes to apply for colleges and finds out that he’s wanted in seventeen states for credit card fraud and not paying taxes.
Not wanting to waste any time in dealing with the matter, I gathered up the boy’s birth certificate and both of my boys, and we drove across town to the Social Security Office, where we actually had to take a number. I’m sure that you big city dwellers are accustomed to “taking a number” and waiting for it to be called, but over here in Small Town, USA, this never happens.
Except at the Social Security Office.
So, we took a number. Ours was #32, and they were currently talking to #48. I had no idea how the math worked on that one, but there were four folks in front of us, so we settled in for the wait.
And, since the office is extremely small and extremely cramped and smelled like a lot of sweaty bodies, we could clearly hear everything that was discussed at the window, where the federal agent sat.
One gal was in desperate need of redirecting her dead mother’s social security checks, because her very-much-alive father was stealing the money for gambling, and she went on to explain that he needed to be involved in a support group for his habit, while she could barely make ends meet.
The next gentleman needed social security money rerouted to his name, because his wife had been diagnosed with brain cancer, and she wasn’t doing well. The hitch came, though, that he’d already filed for divorce from her before the diagnosis, and now… well… he decided not to proceed with separating from her, and HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE FOR THE MONEY TO REACH HIS ACCOUNT?
The third person at the window was a rancher, who had some land issues that somehow tied into matters of social security, but honestly, I lost track of that train wreck, as I sat there in my seat thinking, “I am next, and my issue is SO DADGUM EASY, because we just need a new card, and here I am with the proper paperwork, ready to jump up at a moment’s notice, as soon as they shout for #32.”
What I haven’t told you yet is that during these three people’s time at the window, I was in the very tiny, very cramped waiting room WITH. A. TODDLER.
With a toddler, people.
And he’d had enough after hearing about the teenage girl’s father’s gambling habits, and he wanted to go home. Thing 2 hung off chairs, he laid on the floor and contracted every germ known to mankind, he begged to use the bathroom six times, just for a change of scenery, he scribbled on forms that could be filled out, which were just sitting there, he hung upside down off my lap, he whined, he stomped his feet, and he very dramatically flopped all over the place.
I was a hot mess of sweat myself.
Beside me was my fifteen-year-old son, who had thrown his head back over his chair and kept whispering, “How? Much? Longer?”
So, you know, it was a very relaxing time, and exactly like being at a spa with fizzy cocktails and someone to brush your hair.
By the time #32 was called, my hair was stuck to my sweaty neck, my necklace was broken (Thanks, Thing 2.), we had picked up beads off the floor and probably left many behind that we couldn’t see, my shirt was wrinkled and askew from a squirming three-year-old in my lap, and I was ready for a shower, BUT…
… I got up and walked to that window with my younger son clinging to me like a howler monkey with a death grip, and I slapped my official paperwork down on the counter.
The federal agent behind the glass asked me where my son’s photo ID was, and I said, “Well, he’s fifteen, and he doesn’t have an official photo ID yet, but LOOK! I have brought his birth certificate!”
The man said, “Where’s his passport?”
I replied, “We go nowhere that involves planes flying across oceans or border stops, so he doesn’t have one, but LOOK! I have brought his birth certificate!”
The man asked me in his most irritated voice, “And how do you think you’ll prove to me that he’s your son with that birth certificate?”
I stared at him.
And then I stared some more.
And what I WANTED to say was, “I gave birth to this child fifteen years ago through a C-section with VERY LITTLE ANESTHETIC, and I have bottle-fed him and loved him and potty trained him and rocked him and loved him and taken him to kindergarten and soothed his nightmares and loved him and made him eat broccoli, and this is the birth certificate to prove it, and I have waited ninety entire minutes in this office, and I’m now suffering from a horrible hair day.”
What I REALLY said… again… was, “LOOK! I have his birth certificate.”
And that is when the federal agent reached beneath the small opening between the glass window and the counter, shuffled through my paperwork, pulled up the one that was given to me when I took my number, and pointed to the bottom.
Across it, in bold-faced Times New Roman font, size 682, were the words, WE DO NOT NEED TO SEE A BIRTH CERTIFICATE, UNLESS AN ADOPTED PERSON IS APPLYING FOR A SOCIAL SECURITY CARD. BIRTH CERTIFICATES ARE NOT CONSIDERED TO BE IDENTIFICATION.
But look… I have his birth certificate.
The man behind the window said to me as he scribbled on a sheet of paper, “Go to your son’s school. Ask them for a letterhead from the school, and have them type up a statement on that letterhead that says he is currently enrolled there.”
Because obviously that proves that he’s my son far more than having his birth certificate does.
So there I was, looking like I had just crawled out of a sewer drain in a grand prison escape, because I had just sat FOR NINETY ENTIRE MINUTES IN A CROWDED, CRAMPED WAITING ROOM WITH A TODDLER AND A BORED TEENAGER, and BIRTH CERTIFICATES DON’T COUNT.
And that, people, is exactly when my eyeballs started to fill up with tears, and it was all okay, because I had just been to see our friend Sam, the eye doctor, a little earlier, and he had numbed my eyes, so I could not even FEEL my eyeballs, let alone feel that I was in the beginning stages of a full-on ugly cry.
And that is when the federal agent behind the bullet proof glass window informed me that they closed in 45 minutes, so I’d better hurry, and then he called for #57.
Because apparently #57 follows #32 in his world.
We went to the high school’s main office…
… which was closed because FRIDAY AFTERNOON ON THE LAST FRIDAY OF SUMMER VACATION.
And there it was.
The Full Monty of ugly cries that makes men uncomfortable. The boy kept asking me, “Mom? Are you okay? It’s just a dumb paper to have filled out. It’s okay.”
Except it wasn’t okay, because don’t you see that I waited for ninety entire minutes with a rambunctious toddler and a bored teenager, and I am all disheveled because I’ve been climbed all over by the three-year-old and I brought the wrong paperwork and EVERYONE IN THAT SMALL OFFICE HEARD THAT I HAD NO IDEA WHAT WAS CONSIDERED LEGITIMATE IDENTIFICATION?
Everyone in that office KNOWS that I smugly thought I had the right paperwork, but guess what? I just didn’t.
After I had rolled my eyes in the back of my head at the man who decided not to get divorced after his wife’s brain cancer diagnosis, because listen! There might be some money involved?
Do you know what I learned from this?
We may think that we have it all together, because LOOK! I HAVE THE BOY’S BIRTH CERTIFICATE AND I AM PREPARED TO MAKE THIS AN EASY TRANSACTION AT YOUR BULLET-PROOF WINDOW. We may indeed roll our eyeballs around at others, because LOOK! YOU DON’T HAVE ANYTHING TOGETHER, AND LET ME POINT MY FINGER AT YOUR SIN OF TRYING TO STEAL YOUR DYING WIFE’S SOCIAL SECURITY MONEY, BECAUSE LOOK! I HAVE THE CORRECT PAPERWORK WAITING IN MY HAND, WHICH I HAVE KEPT FROM BEING CRUMPLED THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE NINETY MINUTES BY THE RAMBUNCTIOUS TODDLER, SO CLEARLY I AM BETTER THAN YOU.
And do you know what?
Ain’t none of us out there who has it all together. Ain’t none of us out there who is better than the hot mess in front of us, and sometimes it’s embarrassing to let other folks overhear that. It’s embarrassing to have the five people in line behind you hear that you have waited for an hour and a half, when you thought this was going to be an in-and-out-so-fast-like trip, which is why you shook your mother’s offer to babysit off, as you stated, “It’ll be fine. We won’t be up there long. I’ll take the toddler with me,” and they now know that IN ADDITION TO YOUR BROKEN NECKLACE THAT SPILLED BEADS ALL OVER THE FLOOR WHEN THE THREE-YEAR-OLD PULLED ON IT, you weren’t prepared to meet the federal agent.
And your hair is a wreck.
So when we secretly think to ourselves, “Please stop talking about your dad’s gambling problem to this nice man behind the counter, because it isn’t relevant to your social security issue, and THERE ARE MANY OF US WAITING FOR OUR TURN AT THE COUNTER,” what we really need to be considering is, “Am I going to be any better than this girl?”
The answer is no.
No, I am not.
So, in my very long-winded way, all I can say is this: All I can really do is get my heart right with Jesus and stop criticizing people in front of me, because we’re all just doing the best we can out here in this big world. We all try hard, and sometimes we show up with the wrong stuff and sometimes we cry, but still… we’re all just doing our very level best.
The rest of my weekend picked up A LOT, because that’s the only direction it could go. After an emotional meltdown that involved buckets of tears and snot, and being hugged and consoled by my teenage son, I came home to a great Saturday and Sunday. I’ll tell you more about all if it later, because LOOK! I HAVE RAMBLED TOO MUCH ALREADY!
Before I go, I’ll just say that the boy had a little piano recital at a local nursing home on Saturday afternoon, and man! Can that kid of ours rock the piano!! His grandparents and his aunt and cousins all came out to watch him play on Saturday, and he got to perform for his great grandma, who is a resident at this nursing home. We all clapped like lunatics for that kid of ours, too.
Hubs and I are kind of proud of him.
Y’all have a great Sunday evening.
And… if there is still ANY doubt in your minds…
… a birth certificate is not considered to be ID. You can have THAT cross-stitched on a throw pillow, and you can bet that I won’t even bother bringing it when I go back to TAKE A NUMBER again tomorrow.