A few days ago, my 11-year old son needed help finding something he had lost. Being the ever-helpful father, I join the search by looking in the beer fridge. The item he lost was not beer. What was in the beer fridge was beer, so I had a few while he searched the rest of the house for his missing item.
“You’re getting warmer,” I said from the couch, despite having no idea where the item he misplaced actually was. He glared at me with a cold frustration in his eyes. I smiled and got up to help him search, this time for real. The item in question is still missing, and consequently so are several beers from my refrigerator. I know were they went though.
In truth, I sympathize with my son’s plight. After all, I was once his age, frantically searching for something I carelessly misplaced in that hazy chaos of childhood. It’s what kids do.
When I was that age, my mother would tell anyone listening that her son “would lose his head if it wasn’t attached properly.” Far from being an anatomical possibility, her point is one I can most certainly appreciate given the appropriate perspective of parenthood. These days, if it weren’t for my wife, the most organized person in the history of human beings, I would simply be a taller version of my son. Two meandering males with a prolific and serial ability to misplace our things.
I’m sad to admit that I take a certain amount of pleasure watching my son writhe in frustration over whatever item he happens to lose on a given day, unless the said item is his homework. That bothers me. The rest of it is simply a rite of passage. Each kid experiences the travails of misplacing important items.
Lately, however, my son seems to be a professional at losing his things. X-box games, his favorite shirt, his basketball (which was in his basketball duffel bag all along). If there were a University that offered a Major in misplaced items, he’d graduate Summa Cum Laude. He’d have a full ride scholarship there too, assuming he didn’t lose the acceptance letter.
There is, however, hope for him, and not in the form of a wife of his own. He’s far too young for that.
One day, seemingly out of some desire to prove that he was capable of being neat, my son actually picked up all of the clothes from his floor and placed them in his chest of drawers. They were unfolded, of course, but we’re talking baby steps here.
“I didn’t even know your room was carpeted,” I said, delighted by my own joke. He was not terribly amused at my snarky response, but several days later, he has managed to keep his floor visible to everyone who couldn’t believe he had one to begin with.
It’s important to mention that he is a talented young man, full of potential. None of these symptoms are suggestive of a larger, systemic problem. I’m pretty sure even my wife has lost something over the course of her life, though it certainly hasn’t been in the 17 years I’ve known her.
My daughter, who has eyes that genetically resemble mine, but who has organizational skills that resemble my wife’s, has even misplaced things. It happens. A simple Internet search reveals the amazing things people have lost, including a human skull and a 5.8 carat-diamond ring. If R.E.M. can lose their religion, losing 50 vacuumed-packed frogs doesn’t seem like a stretch.
Losing things is a part of life. You start by losing your baby teeth, then you progress to losing your innocence. I’m losing my hair. Eventually, some of us even lose our minds. Just don’t lose your homework.