Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Running From the Law... And Other Symptoms of Chronic Disorganization

It's that time of year for us again.  Well, to be more accurate, it is PAST that time of year again.

It's not like the Ministry of Transportation forgets to tell us.  No, no -- in fact, they are very diligent about sending us our form at least 2 months ahead of time.  I can't blame them.  We have no one to blame but ourselves.

You know what I'm talking about.  It's sticker time.
License plate stickers are the bane of my existence.  I'm certain that all those born organized people out there go out to the mailbox one day, open up a letter from MTO, see that it's the form for renewing their licence plate sticker, go directly to the phone and call their mechanic to schedule a Drive Clean test, actually manage to go get the test done and then drive directly to a Kiosk and pick up their stickers.

I don't hate people like that... I aspire to be like them, in fact.  But sometimes... in my darkest, most disorganized hours, it's hard not to want to go find an organized person and trip them.  :-)

You see... I am not naturally organized.  It's becoming a learned skill for me.  And... I am getting better!  My default mode, however, is still chaos in motion. 

I can deal with my disorganization... that's not really the part that bothers me the most.  It's actually the look on the faces of those people who are naturally organized that haunts me.

Take for example my neighbours:  Way back in January we met in front of our houses while shovelling snow.  They have a daughter about Kaycie's age and told me that they had just signed their daughter up for skating lessons and why don't Ken and I sign Kaycie up for the same session and then the kids could learn together and we could take turns walking them over to the rec centre and back?  Sounds like a great idea, right?  Sounded like a great idea to me too!  I agreed enthusiastically and promised to get right on it.

You know where this is going.

One week passes and I feel a bit sheepish that I haven't signed Kaycie up yet.  To be fair, I did go online to see if I could sign her up there, but it said that online registration was over and I needed to go in person.

Two weeks pass and I have somehow got it in my head that I need to go get Kaycie skates and a helmet before I can sign her up for lessons.  Avoiding shovelling my driveway in case they see me and ask me about the skating lessons.

Three weeks pass and I realize that yet again I have not done anything about signing Kaycie up for lessons.  But, it's 2am when I have this revelation, and so I am helpless to fix the situation.

Suddenly it's mid-February.  Whenever the doorbell rings, I jump... it's probably them wondering why we haven't been showing up for Monday night skate!  Why am I like this?!!?

March.  I pull into the drive way after taking the kids grocery shopping, and there is my neighbour and his daughter checking out their grass.  That's right... no snow on the ground... I have dragged this on until the end of winter!  As I get out of the car, he comes over to say hi.  We chit chat, and I quickly start apologizing profusely for not signing Kaycie up for skating lessons.  I try to explain how it all happened, and he just gives me that look.  That look of absolute non-computing.  That look that tells me he truly has no idea how it came to be that I didn't just walk over to the rec centre the day after we discussed it and sign up my kid.  It's a look that is very hard to describe, but if you know it, and if you're like me, that look is unmistakeable.  And it makes you want to just crawl under a rock.  Truth be told, my neighbours are lovely people, though!  I'm sure he still likes us!  LOL

Oh well.  Anyway, back to my sticker woes.  MTO held up their end of the bargain this year as usual and sent us the forms for renewing our stickers in February (both of us have April birthdays - thank goodness we only have to once a year instead of twice!).  I thought to myself, "Oh yeah!  Stickers.  I've got lots of time."

Fast forward to me visiting with my parents in the first weekend of May, when out of the blue I gasp mid-conversation and realize aloud that I haven't renewed our stickers and they expired in April!  I resolved to get them first thing Monday morning.

Well, have you heard that bit of trivia about how goldfish only have the capacity to remember the past five minutes?  Sometimes I feel just like a goldfish.

I managed to forget about those darn stickers over and over and over again over the span of the next two weeks.  Generally, I would remember about them while I was driving somewhere with no time to go and renew the stickers.  So, I spent those two weeks driving like a complete fugitive.  Looking nervously around me at every stoplight, obeying every law to the letter, taking routes that I thought cops might not travel.  It was ridiculous.

Finally, I planned ahead (what a novel idea!), managed to get an appointment on a Sunday to get our emission test certificate, and decided to make my Monday morning outing with the kids a trip to the MTO office to get our stickers.  I got up that morning, got the kids dressed and over breakfast, I laid out my plan for Kaycie.  It went something like this:

Me:  "Guess where we're going this morning?"

Kaycie:  "The Disney Store?!?!?!  I loooove the Disney Store!  I would really, really love a..."

Me:  "Sorry cutie, but no, we are not going to the Disney Store."

Kaycie:  (with an exaggerated slump and a dejected moan) "Ohhhhhhhh....."

Me:  "We're going someplace wayyyy better than the Disney Store."

Kaycie:  "Where are we going?"

Knolan:  "Ba, ba, ba, ba, ba, ba, ba, ba, ba, ba, ba, ba."

Me:  "Well, the government wants to make sure that everyone puts new stickers on their cars once a year to prove that they are legally ok to drive their car, and it's that time of year for Mommy to put new stickers on her car, so we are going to the office where the government gives people stickers!  Doesn't that sound like fun?"

Kaycie:  "You can use my heart stickers if you want!"

Me:  "Oh sweetie, that's nice, but we need to use stickers with numbers on them."

Kaycie:  "Well, actually, if your sticker is for your car, then you should really put Lighting McQueen stickers on it because Lightning McQueen is a car."

Me:  "I love you so much."

So, we actually made it out of the house and I loaded the kids into my beast of a stroller - I got a new one from Kijiji that allows Kaycie to sit or stand at the back of the stroller.  It is wonderful, but much, much bigger than I am used to.  Luckily, our MTO is down the street, so off we went on our morning adventure.

After stopping about 7 times to get off the stroller, take off our headband and put it in the under seat storage mesh, and then stopping another 7 times to retrieve said headband and put it back on, we finally made it to the MTO office.

I had foolishly assumed when I was formulating my master plan of attack for getting these stickers that since the MTO is a government office, that the door to the office would have an accessibility button that would automatically open the door for people with mobility issues - or a honking large stroller and two kids.

No such luck.  Have you ever tried convincing a cranky 3 year old who would rather be at a Disney Store to get off her stroller and hold the door open for you so you can push the stroller through the door?  Believe me... I was having just as much luck accomplishing this as I was convincing her that the MTO was a magical place where happy helpers gave out awesome car stickers.  Not happening.

So, after about 4 people walked out the door and right past me struggling with this giant stroller, a very nice man came back and held the door open for us.  Thanking him profusely, I quickly managed to herd my gang through the door.

Once we got in, and I looked up, my heart sunk.  The only way to get to the counter was to literally navigate my stroller through the red velvet rope maze nightmare that MTO had erected to control the masses... which thankfully were not present on this particular Monday.  And of course, Kaycie insisted on sitting on the stroller the entire time.... great.  Sometimes, however, it is very, very wise to choose whatever is the alternative to a public meltdown/battle Royale, so I let her sit on her precious stroller, and began my descent into madness through the MTO labyrinth with about 70lbs of child cargo weighing down my beasty stroller.

I will do everything in my power to avoid this scenario in the future.  It was hell.  And by the way... does no one offer to help people anymore!?  Geesh!

So, I finally got to the wicket, after running over the feet of some guy who had plenty of room to make way for me, but for some unknown reason decided to stand his ground, and of course, I had theeee most cheerful, sweet wicket attendant EVER!  (do you detect the sarcasm?).  With the most patience I have seen in a long time, she demanded my Drive Clean certificate... which was conveniently nearby since Knolan had fetched it out of my bag and had started to gnaw on it.  I rescued the certificate and produced it, all to the soothing and dominating sounds of Kaycie whining and complaining about the MTO not being magical, and how the Disney Store was much more fun, and blah, blah, blah.

I was starting to sweat.  I don't do well when I think people are staring at me.

Finally we finished the transaction.  And thankfully, we finished just in time for me to notice that Knolan was violently yanking on the ethernet cable that was running right at his head level all long the front of the row of wickets.  Awesome... that would have been the perfect end to our outing to have Knolan single handedly bring down the internet at the MTO office.  Miss. Wicket would have just loved that!

So, we managed to make it out of the maze and to the exit door, where again, I was having no luck getting any assistance - from my flesh and blood or otherwise - getting my stroller out the door.  I finally managed to somehow prop the door open with my bum and pull the stroller halfway through by holding onto Knolan's drink/snack tray when an elderly man came to help me out.  When we got through the door, I thanked him, but he kept saying something to me repeatedly.  I couldn't make it out until he kind of shouted:

"You need to get your daughter some bangs!"

I look over at Kaycie, who is looking EXACTLY like Cousin It without her headband on.  All I could muster was, "She won't keep her headband on."   Then I smiled an exhausted smile, and headed home.

 And what became of those stickers you ask?  Well, I am happy to report that they are now proudly affixed to both my ownership papers and my license plate.... and it only took me until this afternoon!


  1. OMG!!! that was a trip and a half!!! there must have been something in the air yesterday!! my afternoon was very similar--but with no stoller--just 2 unrulely kids in public and a very tired mom trying to do everything in my power to prevent the meltdown of the century!! and these are the days of our lives ;-)

  2. If it's any consolation, it took me nearly 10 months and many long trips to Sarnia to renew my sticker (which took all of 90 seconds). And that was before children came along.

  3. Yay... you two are helping me in my quest to feel normal today! Glad to hear I'm not alone in the cranky kid category or the procrastination category!

  4. I had a cranky husband, if that counts....just fooling.
    Kirsten I love you so much, you help all of us sticker people come out of the closet.

  5. I can't stop laughing at this old man yelling, "you need to get your daughter some bangs!" HA!!!

  6. You. Kill. Me. I love your family!!