No matter where in the world we live, there are some things that remain constant. The unwary fall into the trap of thinking that expat life might be different, or that this relocation will be the one where you have freedom to think, space to grow, and finally, a life that looks something like the ones in the glossy magazines. Think again. For those of you who are currently struggling with the school registration vortex, here’s a repost of one of my favorite pieces..
Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there was a life that didn’t revolve around a steering wheel. Life was peaceful, the land was quiet, and the people were happy.
But discontentment snuck in. “Where were the children?” they asked. They could play in the fields, and learn in the schools. They could be polite and cheerful at all times, and help in the house. They could go to college, become professionals, and keep their parents safe and dry in their old age.
So they had children. For four years, everyone in the land was happy. But then the children started school, and the letters began. At first the letters were happy tales of the children’s day, and invitations to meet the kindly teachers. But then, the dark times began.
“Your child” it said ” has headlice, and will need to be kept away from school until you have successfully treated them and been clear for two days.”
And then another. And another.
“Please submit your TB vaccination certificate to the school office by Thursday”
“We require forty-seven volunteers, seventy-three cupcakes and three tubs of glitter for the Halloween party. Please indicate your donation below.”
“Your child has been cast in the class Nativity play. Please send in a cow costume (with detachable udders for hygiene purposes) by tomorrow.”
“We need 6 parents to drive on the field trip next Monday. Please complete attached form, with evidence of public liability insurance, TB vaccination certificate, auto service history to the class teacher by Friday. You will be subject to a background check.”
On and on it went, until the house was unrecognizable, with papers covering every surface. Soon letters were being lost, the forests disappeared, and the cries from parents all over the land could be heard. And so the search began for a new way, a better way.
At first, email was good. But then the evil force took over, and soon parents’ inboxes were filled with clamorous voices from every side. “Come and support your child in the band recital / mandatory meeting for parents of the drama club students/ volunteer sign-ups for the soccer team / Back to School Night / Halloween Party chaperones and donations /school registration requirements / Orientation days”. It never stopped. Parents knew that if they didn’t keep up, their children would no longer be happy and would never go to college, and so the parents drove and drove, until they no longer spent time in their homes, but simply lived in their cars. And just when they thought they could take no more, the “Reply All’ button was discovered, and insanity triumphed.
But somewhere, in a hovel in a small corner of the kingdom, an old crone discovered an answer to the chaos that had taken over, robbing her of her family, her life and her health.
It was the delete button. And it was good.