There is an expression circling the Internet that goes, “It isn’t lost until your mother can’t find it.” Clearly, the author was not raised by my mother.
In my childhood, the majority of lost items could be traced directly back to her involvement. Dreaded were the words, “Mary, can you go upstairs and find my glasses (book, lighter, baby)?” I hope that the new owners of her house locate some of her long-lost stuff. I should have told them about the hamster and the snake — although, to be fair, her part in that mishap was small.
Fast forward a gazillion years; I think I married my childhood. My adult story resumes in the Land of Lost Things; only on this island, the residents are many. It began with the Grand Puba of mislaid items — my husband. I had never heard the phrase “That’s rather odd” used in this context until I met him.
Uttered with soft curiosity, I initially missed the ominous undertone. I did not understand that “That’s rather odd” is really code for, “Emergency! All hands on deck! The adult male’s sneakers have gone missing! Your mission? Recovery with full-scale investigation into who might have moved them.” The first time that he sounded this alarm, our home consisted of him, myself and one small child; so I laughed. And, foolishly added, “Do you suspect aliens?” Not funny.
The misplacing gene is most apparent in our middle son. He will materialize before me and declare, “My phone is gone.” Most likely, this means that he moved his body, thereby leaving the phone temporarily out of view (he failed object permanence as a baby). This is the same child who presented several ripped pairs of boxers to me and said (with unveiled irritation), “These do not fit me.” Upon looking at the tag, I pointed out that these boxers belonged to his little brother. Sighing, I asked, “Could we have had this conversation after the first pair ripped, instead of after the fifth?”
When our youngest son was a toddler, he would bring a sippy cup of milk to bed. Once he fell asleep, I would take the cup so that he wouldn’t drink spoiled milk in the night. I don’t know how long I had done this when he solemnly told me that we had a ghost. With worried countenance and frightened eyes, he confided, “My cup disappears in the night.” I replied, “That’s rather odd.” (Just kidding.) Poor little man. Living in a home of paranoid fools had finally gotten to him.
Our eldest son is not prone to losing things. He does, however, eagerly subscribe to my husband’s conspiracy theory. When accused of leaving the front door open or lights on, our oldest boy emphatically denies that he has ever, nor would ever, be so careless. He apparently has few reservations, though, about throwing me, our pets and, sometimes, my mother under the bus as potential suspects. He hasn’t tried the ghost thing, yet.
Mostly, my world is inhabited by cranky, hypersensitive personalities who cannot find a comfortable temperature, noise level or adequate space to occupy. This manifests itself in frantic cries of, “Turn the heat up! Down! On! Off!” “You are chewing/thinking/breathing too loud!” “Stop tapping!” and “Move over!” And, that is just sitting down to supper.
Imagine my joy when we purchased a vehicle that had heat and volume controls that regulated precisely defined quadrants. I thought I had glimpsed Nirvana — until our first family trip when I realized that adjusting each section (front left, rear right, upper center and a hair to the back) to the exact specifications of seven passengers was a full-time job. Oh yes, I could program it as if each person were in their own bubble. However, with their fragile and temperamental equilibriums, minute by minute updates were necessary, thereby turning a 10 mile jaunt into an odyssey of epic tweaking.
So, with supernaturally shifting items and a cast afflicted with sensory overload, I can’t help but feel that I am stuck in a dark parody of “Someone’s been sleeping in my bed” and the eternal pursuit of “just right.” Personally, I think Goldilocks was just a fall guy.
Mary White is from the Malone area. She and her husband have five children, eight cats, two dogs and three guinea pigs. She has had the privilege of working with children and families (her own and other people’s) for more than 20 years. White has authored two books, “Getting Home” and “Jake the Story,” available at amazon.com. For more of her columns, visit http://marywhitelovestories.com.