Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Fill in the Oval

Life in the country has started falling into a rhythm. The quiet no longer feels so oppressive. The trips to town are few and far between.  The liquor store owner up the road never cards me and asks after my parents.  Life is good, if not ideal. 
And then election day came.
Normally, in the city, election day meant walking two blocks, flashing my ID, maybe registering if I wasn't already, and filling in some circles. Maybe an hour, and four years ago I didn't have any children to worry about.
While I grew up in the country, I had never voted while residing here since I was the girl who hopped on a train when I was 18 and never really looked back. 
Out here in the sticks (an hour from anywhere) they do something called "absentee ballot", which means you are sent your ballot in the mail, fill it out with a witness, and mail it off. 
Well, you have to register in advance for that to work. And we, of course, hadn't yet. 
So this morning I googled "polling places in Minnesota when you live an hour from anywhere", only to discover that it wasn't at the little tiny town up the road, but even farther, to the "big town" which was, of course, an hour from us.  Fine, Tyrant Daddy and I thought, we can do that. We just needed our ID's and a piece of mail proving where we lived, right? 
Except I couldn't find my ID. ANYWHERE. I interrogated Thing 1 who made her most innocent Puss-in-Boots face and pleaded the fifth. Finally I found an old college era driver's license where I was surprisingly wrinkle and dark circle free. At this point I was committed. There was no going back.  The diaper bag was packed. I would have to do the best I could.  
As we were putting on our coats, our conversation went something like this:
"Did Tyrant Daddy have his ID?" 
"It wasn't expired too, was it? Haha!"
Turns out his birthday had come and gone and so had his valid license. 
We almost quite. Right then and there. Said  to hell with it, what will two votes matter one way or another? 
But I couldn't do it. And neither could he. Because I looked at my Tiny Tyrants in all their glory, and I realized that the future MATTERED to me too much to just let it slide.
So we loaded them up. Drove an hour. Praised the creator of the portable DVD player. Went to the courthouse. Went to the wrong floor. Found the right floor. Got some forms. Casually mentioned we might have expired ID's. Got the squint eye from the lady at the counter. Was informed we needed VALID ID's. Got sent to the DMV down the road. Filled out more forms. Took some pictures. The DMV lady glanced at me in my amazing thrift store beret, frizzy hair poking out in all directions, raccoon eyes and ruddy cheeks, and then casually asked if I wanted to just make a duplicate rather than renew since my old picture was REALLY nice. I mentioned how I had gotten dressed up JUST for this occasion, but I supposed I could wait until it expired. Then I ran after Thing 1 who was piling  pillows from the waiting room couch on the floor, and then flinging herself into them because she was a "dragon! See how I fly like a dragon, Momma!" while Thing 2 planted herself in front of the magazine rack and systematically hurled driving manuals and copies of Motorcycle weekly all over the room. 
Then we were back in the car (Toddlers REALLY love getting in and out of their car seats, have you noticed that?) and BACK to the courthouse, where Thing 1 informed us that she was tired of paperwork and wanted to take a nap. Tyrant Daddy opted to stay with her, so Thing 2 and I bounded up the marble stairs. Thing 2 attempted to infiltrate the offices of the city while I did more paperwork, and then finally I was in a little blue booth, Thing 2 firmly planted on my feet while she chewed on my purse and emptied credit cards and diapers onto the floor. (I didn't want to hold her after that talk about "fill each oval in ALL THE WAY". Ever tried to fill in a tiny oval accurately while a one year old attempts to eat your pen? Tricky.)
Then I was DONE. 
We traded places with Tyrant Daddy. I let the Tyrants run wild in the car until he returned. In his hand was a yellow sheet of paper. Apparently while he was filling out HIS forms someone came up the stairs  and said they had found it in the hall. He asked if it had my name on it. It did. It was my newly acquired $13.00 worth of proof that I was me and I looked like me and I lived where I live, which I had let fall out of my pocked while flying Thing 2 down the stairs like an airplane so her screams sounded more happy and less undead. 
I can't imagine why I couldn't find my original ID, my life is SOOOOO organized. Sigh.
We praised our surprisingly cooperative Tyrants, and headed home. 
I must say, it was the most arduous voting process I have ever endured, but it WAS WORTH IT. Taking control of my life and my future,  one Tyrant adventure at a time. 

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