Adventures in passport photography

Every February, I have a cold weather freak-out and demand we go somewhere warm, no matter what the cost.

And then we never go anywhere because the kids don’t have passports. (Florida doesn’t count. If I’m going to fly with children [shudder], I’d better get some pool time out of the deal. It needs to be hot.)

So this past weekend, I decided it was time for passports for the kiddos. Me! So very proactive! Spontaneous, even! (Hahahahahahahahahaha. I’m so far removed from anything spontaneous, I’m practically a statue.)

My thinking: We may have enough money left over after Christmas (ha!) to be able to do one of those last-minute package deals to the Caribbean. (As Nat wryly put it: “Haiti, here we come!”)

Anyway, do you know what is involved in getting your kids passports?

As we say in the corporate comms world, it’s a heavy lift.

Step 1:

I had to find my kids birth certificates and their social security cards. Apparently, I should just know where these important documents are in my house. What am I? A Mom wizard?

After a few hours of looking around, I finally found them, filed in a filing cabinet under the letter “B” for “Birth Certificates “(well played, Dorothy Robinson of the past! Well played).

Step 2:

I printed out two Passports form and filled those out, like a boss.


Step 3:

I found a semi-clean fucking FOLDER where I put the filled out Passport forms and my children’s Important Government Documents like I’m some kind of Marie Kondo motherfucker. [Editor’s Note: I do not know why I’m cursing so heavily in this paragraph. I just felt ridiculously pimp at the time; let me have this moment.]

Step 4:

I then did some message board recon on which post office to hit. In case you haven’t gotten a passport for your child, you need both parents on hand to apply for a passport for your kids; most post offices like for you to have an appointment. But most appointments are during the week when parents are probably working so I found one that had Saturday hours. And they would take the photos there.

Boom! #stonecoldmomming

Step 5:

Be prepared that it will all go downhill from there. 


At the post office:

After parking and sludging both kids in the rain, the line was 14 people deep. At 10:30. (It opened at 10).

I then overheard someone in line saying that they didn’t take pictures as the camera was broken. 

Dear reader. Was I going to let one broken passport camera deter me?  No, I was not. So I instructed Nat to wait in line. Back out into the rain I went with the kids to head to CVS to get some passport photos.

I  parked. Got the kids back out of their car seats. Walked them through the rain again to the CVS where I waited in another line. Veronica (the clerk) was up for the challenge. 

Veronica (age: 19, I’m guessing) snapped Sam pretty fast but the baby was a tough one. I got on my knees and held her through her arm pits up in front of the white background like some kind of deranged Rafiki.

Dramatic re-enactment of lifting Kit to get her passport photo.

But then Veronica wouldn’t make any noises to get Kit to look at her. What kind of passport photo taking professional was this kid? Who doesn’t know you need to make noises at a baby for them to look at them?

“Can you please cluck at her or something?” I snapped while squatting. [This is the first time I’ve ever instructed anyone to cluck at anyone while squating.] Sam, bless him, stepped up and started making noises to get Kit to look at the camera.

And every time Kit would look, Veronica would be like: “Oh, I didn’t get it.”

At this point, my arms give out.

But! Not all is lost. Veronica, who at this point was slowly redeeming herself, got out a piece of white cardboard and put Kit on top of it. 

Here are the outcomes:

“Dude. Why did you pull over my van?”

Then it was my turn. I put the baby on the floor and instructed Sam to watch her.

Can you see my eyes screaming? Because they were definitely screaming.

Eyes. Screaming.

At check out, I picked up 10 bags of candy to theoretically give to Trick or Treaters but were pretty much for me to stress-eat in the car on the way back to the post office.

Let’s pause here, shall we? I’m re-reading this and am shocked and horrified I became so broken at just driving from the post office to the CVS and then back again. But….it broke me, friends.  Rain, car seats, children, federal bureaucracy.

It was a lot. 

Now, back at the post office…

Nat has moved up 6 people. There, we wait for another hour with two small children. In line. Damp and miserable.

We ate all the Snickers bars. 

Kit finally broke while we were finally in front of passport agent because, get this! The form I filled out in advance? Well, you can’t print them out two-sided. It has to be on two different piece of paper so we had to refill everything. Then, the postal service had to make money order to the State Department (as I guess they don’t take credit cards?). Kit starts screaming. I was bouncing her up and down. Sam started begging for another Snickers. I was sweating. It was a lot. 

I almost called it right at the very end. I almost grabbed Nat and told him we didn’t need to go anywhere warm come February. But I held strong.

Finally, after two hours, we (apparently! they will mail them! I have no faith in the post office ever again!) got the passports. 

Haiti, here we come.

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