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Confessions of a Form-a-Phobic

The email comes in with an attachment for me to fill out and send back. Simple enough.

But the request to “fill out the form” fills me with dread. Seriously, I moan to myself, I have to fill out another form?

So what do I do? What I always do: I hit the “Mark Unread” button, and proceed to the next email.

Forms send me into a frenzied tailspin. Think Edvard Munch’s “The Scream.” That’s pretty much how I feel when faced with filling out forms. I’m sure there’s a name for my affliction. I like to say I have form-a-phobia. Others might say I’m disorganized or, perhaps, just lazy. Guilty as charged.

Anyone with children in school knows a fear of filling out forms is not a good formula for successful parenting. My senior almost missed the first day of school last week because her medical forms had not been sent. You’d think after 14 years of having a child in school I’d have this gig down. I guess I thought Bobby had taken care of it. Even though we’re divorced we still work together as a team when it comes to the kids. He has always been the organized one, the “form” guy, the sign-the-girls-up-for-soccer guy. I’m better at the triple-trips-a-day to CVS, Starbucks, and Safeway. We all play our roles, and scheduling is not one I’ve perfected.

But somehow it all works out. The girls have managed to stay enrolled in school--albeit with some “gentle” reminders from the accounting department and school nurses. Of course, this year, Peyton’s final one in high school, we hit a snag: her last first day of school almost didn’t happen. When the woman from the school’s health center looked up from her laptop, I could tell what she was thinking. How lame are you that you didn’t take care of this?

And here’s where I have to admit that not only did I neglect to fill out her medical forms, I neglected to schedule the girls’ annual check-ups altogether. That’s right. No check ups. Somehow this summer, I simply forgot to take them to the doctor for their annual physical.

Walking with a friend, rehashing the story later that day, she asked, “You mean you never called to make an appointment?” She chuckled, but didn’t cut me any slack. “What were you thinking?”

I wasn’t thinking, apparently. Okay, somewhere in the back of my mind, I figured I’d take them in for check-ups the first few weeks of school, handing in the forms a wee bit late. That’s what I’ve done before, and it has worked. Perhaps the schools have been enabling my tendency to put off things until the last minute. But not this time.

“Oh my gosh,” I said to the woman peering from behind the laptop. “I just called her pediatrician and we can get a physical this week.”

She paused, shooting me a disdainful look. “No, I’m sorry. She needs the forms today.”



I quickly called the doctor’s office, begging the nurse to please, please, please squeeze us in.

We take our girls to a pediatrician who doesn’t take insurance. That’s both the good and bad part of this story. It means a parent can scramble for an appointment at the last minute and see the doctor. That day. It also means there will be a whopping bill along with the visit. And, yes, more forms to fill.

So I will be paying the price for my form-a-phobia. And maybe, just maybe, I will have learned a lesson. I believe there’s hope for me. As they say, admitting you have a problem is the first step toward recovery. Too bad it took nursery, elementary, middle and high school to get here.