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That’s it. I’m the only person in my house who can find anything. My powers are both blessing and curse.
Is my home such a disaster? My kids treat me like a sphinx they’ve stumbled across while making their way through a complex labyrinth. I alone hold the answers they seek. Answer me these riddles three, if your mouth guard’s what you wish to see.
It’s not only small, easily mislaid objects like tweezers, nail clippers, or the last roll of scotch tape they can’t see. I’m talking about large items in plain sight that are right where they belong, like say, the mustard.
“Where is it?!”
“In the fridge. It’s big and yellow. Can’t miss it.”
“No it’s not!”
“Yes it is. Check the door.”
“We must be out.”
“We can’t be out. It’s in there.”
“I guess I won’t have any mustard then. Where’s the ketchup? I can’t find it.”
It’s at this point I have to stop whatever I’m doing to investigate. Within two seconds I’ve nudged a head of lettuce to the left and located the bright economy sized bottle. Here.
Belts, gloves, keys, the form I was supposed to sign yesterday, you name it, only I can find it. They think our whole house is one giant Room of Requirement and I alone am privy to the cipher that catalogues it all. Perhaps there’s a biological component. Is the juvenile cornea like the prefrontal cortex, not fully developed until age 25?
I try to nurture their detective skills by offering simple tools and tactics like retracing ones steps and visualizing the day. “Where did you last see it?”, “Where did you go after that?”, “Did you check the car?” They take my astute advice for a full 45 seconds, backtracking and visualizing. Then when my methods break down, they quickly blame their three year old little brother who regrettably never has a lawyer present.
When I loose something, I’ll offer a cash reward for it’s safe return. Proper motivation and incentive will save the day, surely! It’s inevitably anticlimactic. I end up paying myself every time. Trust me, it’s not satisfying.
The problem I have with the whole mystery genre is none of our favorite amateur sleuths are mothers! On this count alone, I can no longer suspend my disbelief. Sherlock Holmes, Inspector Poirot, even Miss Marple never had to recall the exact locations of dozens of personal effects for nine different people that all shifted daily. How on earth did they hone their detective skills looking only after themselves?
But here’s what puzzles me. Right when I think only mothers can achieve the highest marks in the sciences of deduction and bird-dogging, my children surprise me. They have no trouble finding my secret cache of chocolate chips. No problem just happening upon the birthday gifts I bought early at a sale. They simply stumbled across the pocket knife I told them they were too young to wield and deftly hid.
No, they are more clever than they let on. They can’t be thrown off the scent, I’ve tried. They know my routines all too well. They can read my tells. It’s only when it’s time to add the chocolate chips to the dough when I realize my system’s been compromised. But their tracking abilities are not limited to sweets or Santa’s stash.
They can always find me. They find me at 2am to tell me they had a bad dream. They find me during my morning meditation. They find me trying to write. They file their grievances outside my locked bathroom door while the water is running. “Alexa! Call mom!” is uttered frequently, whether I’m away running errands or just plain upstairs.
I don’t mind being their touchstone. In fact, this is how I want it. When they are grown and gone and life has them reeling and on the ropes, I pray they will know how to retrace their steps, how to visualize their day. I hope they will still catch on to my routines. Will they occasionally check the car and find themselves driving home?
When they do, I promise to have those cookies ready and waiting for them. Which reminds me… “Alexa! Order more chocolate chips!”