Sunday, March 19, 2006

losing things

There are lots of good reasons to have kids, and I think I've just found another one. After over twenty years of losing things and bearing the full responsibility of my carelessness, I can now blame it on my kids.

I was a loser as a kid, and I don't mean it in the "shape of an L on your forehead" way. I lost things. Unbelievable amounts of things, and usually at the worst possible time. If we needed to leave, I had lost my coat. If it was time for school, I had lost my homework. If it was time for my piano lesson (and once, disastrously, for a piano competition), I had lost my music. I lost earrings, glasses, shoes, sweatshirts, school books, backpacks, jackets, and on one memorable occasion in the Seattle Coliseum, myself. And the thing about losing stuff is that you really can't blame it on anyone else, since it is not highly likely that anyone would steal an enormous and fabulously ugly denim jacket with white fuzzy lining. Well, OK, maybe in the eighties they would have, but they probably didn't.

I should have realized, at my high school graduation, that I was destined for greater things than losing trivial items such as socks. (I kept one yellow sock for fifteen years, hoping the mate would eventually show up.) I graduated with an empty diploma folder because I had lost an American History book that I was sure would reappear, genie-like, in time for me to avoid the $28 replacement fee. In college, I lost textbooks, umbrellas, library books, and cold hard cash. After moving into the adult world, I progressed to car keys, birth certificates, college diplomas, day planners, and a car. (I found it, though.) But always, until now, it was entirely and unavoidably my fault.

Yesterday I lost four pieces of French bread. They were not especially small or inconspicuous. They were your standard-issue slices of bread, soft, white, fragrant, and most importantly, inert. I took them out of the bag, intending to make sandwiches for my kids for dinner, and laid them on the counter while I put the rest of the meal together. I did not leave the room. But apparently the bread did. I reached for them, and experienced a moment of stunned silence when it became evident that they were gone, and that no amount of staring at the counter was going to cause them to reappear. I looked in all the usual places -- back in the bag (now inhabited only by a sad, chewy-looking heel of bread), in the refrigerator, in the garbage, on top of the microwave, and on the other counters. I looked in some unusual places as well -- on top of the piano, in the oven, by the CD player, and in the bathroom.

Then I realized that a while earlier, Peter had dragged his little wooden chair into the kitchen to supervise my work, and for a brief moment, I had my back turned. I changed my strategy. I looked in with his train set, the domino box, the toy basket, behind the couch, and among the queasily realistic rubber reptiles he got for Christmas. No luck.

By now it was a matter of principle. I rampaged through the kitchen and family room, lifting up cushions, shoving papers aside, slamming drawers open and shut, flinging open cupboard doors I hadn't opened in days, looking in impossible places because all the possible ones had been used up. I grumbled and groused and sputtered, occasionally punctuating my rumblings with an exasperated outburst, "How can you LOSE a QUARTER of a LOAF of BREAD?"

I never found the bread. I made sandwiches out of something else, served dinner, and ate with my family, still watching for four slices of French bread to pop out, waving and grinning, from behind my water glass. The adrenaline dissipated, but unlike incidents in the past where I would spend the next two hours quietly fuming and muttering to myself, I now had an explanation that brought surprising peace of mind, given that it was almost entirely unreasonable:

"Peter did it!"

Ahhh, relief. I had an answer. It wasn't a good answer, and it wouldn't stand up to any level of scrutiny, but it was an answer and it worked just fine for me. Children are supposed to bring joy to their mothers' hearts, and this child just had, whether he knew it or not.

Now if he'll just tell me where he put my 2001 tax return ...


At 3/20/2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Finally got to reading your posts! What a delight. I was encouraged and smiled a lot. Can't wait to read more!
Hugs - Julie

At 3/21/2006, Blogger Church Lady said...


Your posts continue to be a treat for me to read. Thank you very, very much,


At 3/22/2006, Blogger Scott William Carter said...

Nice post, Brenda. I know what you mean about losing things. For example, after having Katie it wasn't long before I lost my mind, and unfortunately I never got it back. :)

At 3/22/2006, Blogger XSRocks said...

I've not lost much in my life unless you count wives, opportunities, friends, and, at various times, an enormous amount of weight.

While I was reading your blog titled "losing things" I happened to think, I wonder if Brenda has done any experiments on losing things...actually try to lose and then find something? It may be a good exercise and might give you an opportunity to identify the how of your losing things.


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