I was fixing breakfast this morning when the wailing sound started upstairs and began moving toward me. Louder and higher and more shrill--living proof of the Doppler Effect--until it was right behind me, echoing around the kitchen.
"What's wrong Lily?"
"I can't find my sweater!" (sob, hiccup, sob).
"Well go look for it, it's probably where you last left it."
"But I can't find it anywhere!"
"Yes, well as I haven't moved it and I am one of the few in the house who consider a sweater to be out of place on the floor I can pretty much guarantee you that it hasn't moved from the last spot where you dumped it. No one else would have bothered to pick it up and it has, in fact, probably sprouted roots by now. Go look."
One minute later--exactly enough time for her to turn around, walk up the stairs, down the hall, step six inches over the threshold of her bedroom and take one full breath of bedroom air--and she's back in the kitchen crying.
"It's lost! I can't find it!"
I've heard this so many times lately I'm ready to crack. The kids lose something and they can't find it and they come after me like I'm Columbo, able to solve all the mysterious disappearances plaguing our home and let me tell you it's like the Bermuda Triangle over here the way things are vanishing. David's watch, Spencer's coat, Lillian's hat . . .
Lunch boxes, wallets, mittens, hats, shoes, library books, if it's smaller than an RV it'll get misplaced sooner or later. Or both. I've been over the procedure for putting things away properly till I'm writhing on the floor in agony but it's just not sinking in because several times a week I'm getting hit with "I can't find [fill in the blank]!"
Oh I've tried the system of throwing their gear outside whenever they've left it sitting around but that only means that they know where it will be when they go looking for it. "Missing backpack? Not to worry, Mom's picked it up and it's out on the front porch. " I've used the Mad Bag where if I find things sitting around they are collected for a period of time but Grace's hat has been there for two months and she's never noticed that it's gone. Somehow that's taking the punch out of the punishment.
More frustrating than the actual misplacement is the fact that my children seem incapable of finding something on their own. It's just a given that if they've lost something they'll not be able to find it and equally as true that if I go looking for it I'll find it within five minutes. Yes, I'm amazing. They think that if they step into the room and do a sweeping motion with their eyes, testing the atmosphere for tremors in the Force, they've done their job.
When I say, "Have you looked for it?" all they hear is "Do you think you'd maybe like to have it back?" to which the answer is of course "YES!" If I ask where they've looked for it they'll say, "EVERYWHERE!" Because they're that thorough. I'll give them a checklist of places to look: under the seat in the car, under their bed, in the dress-up box, under the couch, behind the black bench in the garage, behind the couch . . . but they'll swear they've checked all those places in vain.
I've become completely calloused and nasty over the whole issue which has become large enough to make me rather desperate and twitchy. I'm ready to start mixing my colors and whites. On purpose. I'm starting to believe that if a child loses something through laying it down irresponsibly he or she must have too many things to keep track of and therefore should have to pay an Excess Tax. As in, "Go look for it yourself, because if I find it . . . it's MINE."
When David lost his wallet this month with his entire life savings of $2.35 (plus a library card) and was ready to call in the FBI I merely shrugged my shoulders and said, "It'll turn up." Thinking that even if it didn't my life would be easier if I pretended I hadn't heard his trauma. And it worked. Two weeks later it magically reappeared and the Free World breathed easier--you may have missed the story in the paper, it was buried on page two.
Lillian did eventually find her sweater, though after "looking" for it behind the couch, claiming it wasn't there then taking the time to knock over my orchids in the process. Turns out it was there, though heaven knows why, it's as if my children think that a sweater touching a hanger will set off a nuclear reaction capable of destroying Life As We Know It.
Tell me this is just a phase and that they'll someday be able to keep track of and find their own things. If not, I'm expecting that in twenty years I'll be getting a lot of phone calls from my children while they're wandering parking lots, asking if I can come and find their car for them. Sigh. It could happen.
Congratulations to Andrea from Yorktown, Saskatchewan for winning this week's Saturday Giveaway. She's won the camper tee from Mountain Aven Baby. Woo hoo!
And if you haven't already seen this, here's a link that's pretty funny, rather Deep Thoughts-ish. The one about being in the Army cracks me up.
Technorati tags: parenting, motherhood