Thursday, June 16, 2011
Nuts and Bolts: Passports
"Wheel-spinning." I think we all know what that is. For those of you who don't, perhaps the Polish contingent out there who may or may not be reading any of this dribble, ... "wheel-spinning" is when you work really really hard at something and get nowhere. Think cartoon characters running really fast, in place...Velma, from Scooby-do, that sort of thing.
Some examples to help illustrate: When you take all four kids to Target by yourself, get the cart loaded up, managing to not break anything or lose anyone, and then realize that you left your wallet at home. Shining your kitchen floor til you can see your face in it, and then have your 2 year old walk in and throw up all over it, five minutes later. And Lastly, getting all the paperwork together to go to the Post Office to get passports for the children, pictures, forms, waivers, copies of driver's licenses, birth certificates, all 4 children, 2 of which are sick with fever, only to find that you need TWO of one of the forms and your efforts are in vain.
Ah, wheel-spinning, the arch nemesis of the multi-tasking housewife.
So, in an effort to aid you in YOUR progress, moving forward, I wanted to include a list of DO's and Dont's on getting passports for children. I have done this 3 times (not counting today), and despite my inability to close the deal first time around, I consider myself somewhat of an expert.
1. ...Make an APPOINTMENT 3 months ahead of time. You have to make an appt. I like to allow two months for the Passport to get here, just in case. And you don't want to have to cancel plane tickets because you didn't get it in time. Also, there can be a really long wait for an appt. So do it way in advance.
2. ... have the ORIGINAL COPY of the LONG FORM of their birth certificate*. This is different from the little official one to get into schools and what not. You have to have the LONG FORM, ask for it specifically at the Vital Statistics Bureau. Costs the same.
3. ... have the SIGNED AND NOTARIZED copy of the spousal consent* form. This is a yellow and white form that says that your spouse consents to you getting this Passport. You must have 1 form per child, even if they have the same dad and you are there, gettign two passports at the same time. 1 copy for each child. (if you and your spouse are both there, you don't need this)
4. ... have a copy of the FRONT and BACK of the missing spouse's drivers license or other valid photo I.D. It says this in the fine print on the yellow form but no one actually tells you this so here it is. You're welcome.
5. ... have passport pictures BEFORE HAND. I realize that the Post Office provides this service for a minimal fee but it is way easier to go to Walgreens on a lazy afternoon and get the photos taken without a line of people waiting on you and your (possibly disgruntled) children to stand still and smile for pictures, taken by the Postal Worker who apparently has never seen a (possibly disgruntled) child, and can't understand why they don't just listen when you tell them to stand still. I don't know dude, I don't design them, I just birth them.
6. ... have your CHECKBOOK (ga goin' bAck in TIme...) The Department of State does not take credit or cash. It's around $80 to them and $25 to the Post Office, per Passport. Bring the monies.
7. ... have the Passport Application* filled out IN ADVANCE. This may seem obvious but I've seen people show up with everything else and then want to fill the form out there while they wait, and then realize they don't have their kid's social security number memorized, or what have you...very frustrating.
8. ... have the CHILD PRESENT who is applying for the Passport. They won't give it to you unless they can see that child's face. I guess they want proof, aside from the other 6,000 forms, that this person does in fact exist and that you're not just trying to smuggle large hams out of the country dressed in baby clothes...I don't know.
9. ... bring your OWN I.D. That seems obvious doesn't it? You just never know.
One big life-saving tip you won't want to miss:
(10.) ...If you do use the Post Office for photos ask them in advance if they do BABY PHOTOS. Mine doesn't. If you go someplace like Walgreens, bring a clean white shirt, lay it down on the counter of the photo area, lay the baby down, face up, and have the photographer stand over the child to take the pic. They will have a much easier time getting the child to look at the camera. Some places have other set-ups for babies, but I've had three done where they had no clue, and one where we figured out this little trick.
1. ... take any extra people with you, especially ones under the age of 5 who don't need to be there and sound like they are dying from Tuburculosis every time they cough. If you do have to bring others, bribe them with treats...
2. ... arrive 20 min. early because you think you'll be ahead of your game this way and want to make sure you aren't late. There is absolutely nothing to do at the Post Office for children under the age of 5. Nothing. You can only educate them about P.O. boxes and the "package door" and the hallmark cards for so long. And everyone will just stare and stare. Arriving 10 min. early allows you enough time to get the middle kids in the double stroller, the baby strapped to your chest and the 5 year old helping with all the doors. Or, you know, just the one kid in the stroller or strapped to your chest if you aren't an insane masochist like me.
3) ...tell the guy helping you that you speak, or that your children speak, Polish , or any other foreign language, unless you actually do. Because for whatever reason, there is sure to be someone standing right next to you that will lean over and test that fact. At the post office. On a Thursday morning. In the middle of "bubba-land" Texas. What....... the heck?
So, there you go. You are all set to have a peaceful, smooth experience when you go apply for a Passport for one of your children under the age of 16. Right?
That's right. Unless you're me, and you didn't know that you need a copy for each child of the notarized parental waiver form , only to find that you *don't* have everything so you have to come back *tomorrow* and do it all over again...that's right...
Unless you're ME, the QUEEN of "wheel-spinning"...you'll be, just fine.
* you can download, and print out, these forms online, but I like to get original colored copies from the post office so they are easier to spot in the paper shuffle.