Michelle Martin

Paper, paper everywhere

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Somehow, I thought that when my kids got older, things would be easier. Not so much to keep track of.

And in so many ways, things are easier. I still bless the day Teresa learned to fasten her own seatbelt and I didn’t have to crawl halfway into the back seat every time we went anywhere in a car together.

But the amount of organization it takes to get my now young adult children set for college is daunting. The paperwork for financial aid starts almost a full year before the kids actually go to school: the FAFSA can be filed starting Oct. 1 for the following school year. While it’s not formally due until late winter, some financial aid is first-come, first-served, so it’s best to get it in early.

Then there are immunization forms and health insurance waivers and payment plans to work out.

For Teresa, still in grade school, all of those things still apply: Register in the spring for the following year, sign a tuition contract and set up a payment schedule. Make sure you turn in whichever medical/dental/eye doctor forms are required for each grade, fill out emergency forms and let the school know who is allowed to pick her up.

At least by the time they get to college, you don’t have to worry about whether the ride you arranged is already on the list.

On the other hand, getting Teresa’s school supplies for next year took about five minutes. I ordered them online through a service that works with her school, so she’ll have everything she needs waiting the first day when she shows up. Even better, she’ll have the same stuff as almost everyone else, since most of her classmates’ parents did the same.

Some of Frank’s things will arrive at his dorm in a similar manner; his university’s residence hall office gets a cut if you order the extra-long twin sheets and comforters through them, and it’s a lot less to cram into the van with him and his hockey bag and Caroline and her things at the end of August, when we will road-trip across the country to drop them off at their respective schools.

Of course, the school encouraged buyers to order early while they had widest selection of colors. I did, and he got an email saying his box was at his dorm mailroom in early July.

I don’t know of any patron saints of paperwork — or logistics — but I’d imagine that’s something St. Matthew has some experience with from when he was a tax collector. Add in St. Anthony, for all those forms that get lost and misplaced.

For all those parents who are lost in a forest of papers, you have my sympathy and my prayers. Now I need to call the doctor’s office and check on one last form.


  • family life