A New World (sort of)

Census-Bureau.jpgYou know how I’m neurotic? Maybe a little paranoid with a tendency to obsess a little? Do you remember that about me? Miss it? Well, I’m happy to oblige with a dose for your summer: here’s how that’s working itself out in my parent world.

Let’s hark back to March. It’s census time. Our census form arrives. Of course it doesn’t go smoothly.

“How many people were living or staying at this house, apartment or mobile home on April 1, 2010?” Let’s leave the mobile home part of the question alone, along with yearning for an Airstream, and move on to the math. Technically only two of us lived here in March, but the baby was pending on April 22. Her pre-personhood deserves to be counted, doesn’t it? Yes, thank you. I elect to answer, “Three.” I fill out Person 1’s information (R) and Person 2’s (mine). So far, so good.

My pencil hovers over the blanks for Person 3. She has no official name yet. That’s a minor detail, really though, no? If I put “Beauregard,” and we name her, “Huffington Baby Spangles Herkimer III,” no one will care, right? They’re counting mainly, they’re not cross-referencing to our birth certificates. Maybe if I put her name in quotes they’ll know it’s kind-of/maybe. Like banks that say, “FDIC-insured,” or restaurants with, “home cooking,” on their signs. Great. Done. Beauregard F_______ it is.

I look at the form again.

“Please report babies as age 0 when the child is less than one year old.” No problem. “0” it is.

“Were there any additional people staying here April 1, 2010 that you did not include in Question 1?” Box 1: Children, such as newborn babies or foster children, etc.”

OK, hold up. First off, I just answered Question 1 not thirty seconds ago. To have omitted someone that recently and to then remember them even more recently is weird. How many people do they think are living with me that I can’t reliably count them? There can’t be that many Duggar situations out there, can there?

Related, if I do have that many people living under our roof – say, I’m training up my own soccer side in the basement – and I forgot one, why would I count that one person under Question 2 instead of just going back to Question 1 and upping the number by one? Maybe I’m passive aggressive and have a chip on my shoulder about just that one member of the household so this is my way of letting out that seething rage that I’ve bottled up until exactly this opportunity to snub them presented itself? Of course, only the government will know that I consider them a separate-question-level-sub-par citizen but I guess that’ll take the edge off my rage for another month…? OK. Maybe.

That’s not the problem though. I am not mentally deficient or passive aggressive (mostly), so I counted properly in Question 1. The main problem is the date: April 1, 2010. I was thinking of holding onto the form and mailing it in late April after the baby was delivered so I wouldn’t technically be lying re: number of persons under the roof. Now it looks like my honesty isn’t the issue. She’s not going to get counted for ten years because she’ll be born three weeks past the deadline. Now that, my friends, is some seriously garbage precedent. How will we get her apportionment of rice or crayons or Skittles or whatever they’re going to send us based on the form? We won’t and that’s the end of it.

This bothers me. I think about it at night. She’ll be ten before she’s counted. That’s messed up. It’s an identity thing, an acknowledgment that she has a space in the world. The census is, of course, missing tons of people who aren’t even prospective infants at the time of the counting, but nevertheless I’m irritated.

Fast forward a month. A. is born three and a half weeks early. On March 30. One day before the census cutoff. I’m lying in my hospital bed. What am I thinking about? How grateful I am we have a healthy daughter? Sure. How great R. has been throughout? Yeah. How cute she is? Fine. What I’m really thinking about is what an idiot I am for having already mailed the census form. So not everything is different when you have kids. Pointless neuroses still firmly intact. Excellent.

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Categories: News, Nuisance, Miscellany


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