Paper trail

~~ Originally printed in The Chapel Hill (NC) Weekly, March 2012 ~~

Look, people. Yes, you. Teachers, coaches, team moms, program coordinators… everyone I depend on as my “village.” When you give my kids a form for me to sign, three things are supposed to happen: They hand it to me. I sign it. They turn it back in to you. On time. It’s hard enough for someone with one kid, but I’ve got three, and let me just tell you it’s a miracle in my family if your slip of paper completes the full circle.

Guess what doesn’t happen? Reading. They’re pushing a pen into my hand, panicking about “late for the bus,” and my coffee isn’t getting any hotter. I’ve got to assume you read it before handing it out, and my kid read it before deciding that he or she did, indeed, wish for me to sign it. I’m busy. Look! Cats doing funny things on Facebook.

But I propose we do away with these ecologically-antagonistic scraps altogether. I’m pretty sure that Facebook is the answer, y’all. Sure, it’s a great place to catch up with my 1970s classmates from Seawell Elementary School and get un-friended by my daughter because I didn’t know I was never – EVER! – supposed to post on her wall, but it could be a great mom tool. The technology is there. Instead of having me sign a form, you could create an event on Facebook and let me “like” it to show acknowledgment or authorization. You wouldn’t have to depend on children to hustle papers. It would be awesome. Just don’t ask me to play Cityville.

If you could see the documents I’ve signed my name to recently – tests, transcript request forms, permission slips for field trips and PG-13 movie-viewing, course syllabi, progress reports and report cards – you’d maybe forgive me for not reading every last thing.

Except that 17-year-old Bailey came out of her room on Thursday morning wearing a smart-looking skirt and clear tights – that’s “pantyhose” to you and me – wheeling her giant pink duffel bag. “Where are you going?” I asked.

“NC Youth Legislature,” she said. I stared blankly. “With Youth & Government,” she said. It’s a program with the Chapel Hill-Carrboro YMCA. “You signed the papers last week, Mommy.”

Bailey was going to Raleigh for four days, and I didn’t even know about it. But I’m sure she would have checked in on Facebook.

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