I drove up with the kids (and cat) this past weekend to NY in order to get the kids enrolled in school before the start of the school year.

The experience the past few days has been … bumpy.

I was emotional leaving North Carolina, and our amazing neighbors (friends who live near us, I should say, but it takes too long to type out every time), our great neighborhood, and our wonderful house. And the weather! Oh, the weather. But I was also excited for the next chapter, for Bob to start a job that is a new challenge and a big step for him, and to change scenery again.

Twenty minutes into our drive, the cat threw up, then pooped. An auspicious start. But manageable. I was able to clean him, myself, the car, and the cat box while holding Chester in one hand, so while I obviously wouldn’t have wished for it, it was quickly put behind us.

As I continued to drive north, and left North Carolina for Virginia, I noticed the sides of the road twinkling on and off with fireflies. I had seen them even as far back as our neighborhood, although they are (of course) difficult to see in daylight. As evening fell, though, they became increasingly apparent, twinkling and shifting through the long Virginia grasses. And they came out in masses, lighting the roadside almost as bright as day, some blinking off, others blinking on a festive morass.

After hours and hours of driving, I almost didn’t notice them anymore, but they still were there when I parked at the hotel in Altoona, PA. At 3:30 am, after I had finally gotten all the kids tucked in and asleep, the cat was … somewhere in the room, I looked out of the window, back the way we had come. Lining the driveway into the hotel were the fireflies. It was an overcast night, there was no moon. But reflected up through the trees, onto the heavy, low clouds was the light of the fireflies. I could see the twin trails of them, splashing and ebbing on the belly of the clouds stretching back, back, back, far off beyond the curvature of the earth. Lighting the way back home. I swear to you this is true. It helped remind me I will always be able to go back.

Sunday dawned at 9:30am (as far as I know), and we got back on the road. Once I arrived at my parents in New York, I got down to work organizing my time to make this week as effective as possible.

On Monday, I worked in the morning, and spent the afternoon getting the children set up with doctor’s appointments and establishing care at the pediatrician office. I went to the Y to get Grant set up for daycare, and the twins established for aftercare. Things were moving right along! I called our old pediatrician to ask for the twins’ shot records, so I could carry it in to the school registrar the next day, since they wouldn’t have doctor appointments prior to the first day of school. They uploaded the records to the patient portal, and I printed out Eleanor’s. I noticed right away that they didn’t have any records after 2015, which is not accurate.

Some pertinent history – when we first moved to North Carolina, we were patients with a group practice that was highly rated. When we moved to Hillsborough from Durham, we switched to a small local practice. Not long after, the small practice was purchased by the very same group practice. From that time on, I noticed that our records weren’t properly merged – I kept getting calls that the twins were overdue for their 5 year well-child visit, for example. But we had gone on their birthday (they still talk about how on your birthday you get shots). So fast forward to yesterday. I notice that the records are incomplete, and this is a BIG problem. The school was very emphatic that they would not accept children who didn’t have their immunizations. I sent a note to the group practice through the patient portal (because it was night and no one was there), and continued to fill out the children’s enrollment forms (until midnight).

Come morning, I have a message back from the group practice, telling me that they are extremely sorry, and they’re doing everything they can to find the files and records. They give me a number to call, so I do, between calls at work. I talk with the records manager of the group practice, and she tells me that this is happening with a lot of patients of the small local practice. The records simply were not kept, and they were never entered into the state Immunization Record. She told me that I may have to have the kids re-immunized, if the state demanded it (she did say, she was not a nurse, and she wasn’t giving advice, but to be ready to hear that). This was the most stressful part, so far.

I gathered up my inch thick stack of documents and forms and proofs of residency and my father (both because we had to get things notarized and for moral support) and set off for the school registrar to try to get the kids enrolled.

And it went fine. I was in a panic for days about the problems getting them enrolled, including us not having a permanent address in NY State, and their incomplete immunization records, and because I used a purple pen to fill out 33 pages of forms, and it was all fine.

All the same, I think I’ll have a glass of wine.

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