Lost and Found

My daughter, Grace, is the biggest loser in the family. You name it, she has lost it. This past summer, she turned the household upside down and on its side looking for her lost possessions. When she could not find them, we had to bear the brunt of her frustration and anguish over her losses.

She was coming and going from an internship in Virginia. One Sunday when she was leaving to go back to Virginia, Grace could not find her retainers — upper or lower. She looked all over the house. She told me and her father that the last time she saw them was when she took them out of her makeup bag and put them on the bed next to her. There were mountains of things on her bed between that weekend, not to mention the things on the floor of her room and the things she dropped and left in the family room or kitchen. While she packed for her trip back, she searched and searched for the retainers. She kept coming back to me and her father, proclaiming she had no idea where they were since she had taken them up with her when she went to bed.

Her father just told her they would turn up, and he refused to look for them. He stopped looking for her things years ago, because after spending hours doing so, they would turn up in the most obvious of places. So, these days he waits at least 40 minutes before pitching in. This time he didn’t lift a finger.

I, however, took one for the team. I searched the trash — the garbage, really — sitting in the garage. I went through six bags of it, and I went through it 10 times. Nothing. Grace was quite upset, swearing her teeth were shifting with each minute that passed. I assured her that the retainers were somewhere. Four weeks went by. Still nothing. Not at home. Not in her dorm room.

Finally, she had only a couple of weeks left before leaving for a semester in Italy. Grace went to the orthodontist for a checkup and was told it would cost $700 to replace the retainers. She called her father from the office and told him. He told her he was not paying for new retainers and to come home.

Back at our house, she researched online and found a company that would let her mold her own retainer for $130. She made the mold and mailed it. The next day, Grace was going through her clothing for the trip and put on one of her sweatshirts. She pulled on the hood to be comfy while taking a nap. Later that night when she took the hood off, guess what came tumbling out? Both retainers.

To this day, we have no idea how they got there.

But this is how Grace rolls. The very next day, as I walk in the door from work, she tells me, “I misplaced my bank card.” I just gave her that mother look. You know the one. I said, “You better look for it.” She was, she assured me.

I went downstairs to see about some dinner, put on my slippers, and guess what was in them? Her bank card.

The next week, we were on the way to the airport. Of course, I had asked a hundred times if she had everything. She did a cursory check while my husband stopped for gas. “I think I left my glasses home.” So, at the 7-Eleven we pulled out suitcases. Nothing. We went back home and searched the house for 10 minutes. Finally, we found them under a pillow.

There’s more. On our travels in Europe, she managed to lose a bus card, earphones and some postcards from our first stop in France. I am leaving her now in Italy for four months. If she loses something, it’s all on her.

Grace says it’s all because she’s in a period of transition. “That’s usually when I am packing my bags to end or begin a semester or even go on a trip. During that period I have rationalized losing things,” she says. “I don’t ever intend to lose things, but I can sympathize with myself when I do. Which makes the hunt to find whatever it is more exhilarating — retracing steps, checking bags and pockets and asking people if it’s there. It’s who I am.”

My fellow parents, you can be a searcher, or like my husband, a non-searcher, saving yourself time, money and aggravation. Based on Grace’s rationale, I am neither. But you know, it’s who I am.

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