So far we have had two chilly mornings. So far Sean has worn a jacket to school two times. So far Sean has lost two jackets.
So this morning, as he put on his 3rd and final jacket, I said to him that his first order of business today was to locate the other two jackets.
“Mom,” he said, “If the jackets are not claimed within so many days they give them to someone who does not have a jacket.”
“Sean,” I said, “That someone without a jacket may be you if you don’t come home with your jackets.”
And I was not kidding. I am a big proponent of Love & Logic parenting. If he comes home with no jackets today, tomorrow he will be mighty chilly as he walks to school.
After seven years of parenting, I have yet to discover how to teach this child to keep track of his stuff. I have tried to teach him that when you do not return things to their proper place, they become lost. When you just put things down wherever you are done with them, they are not in their proper place and therefore — become lost. When you do not put mommy’s scissors back in her desk, the proper place of scissors, they are not there when mommy wants to use them, and they become lost. And that makes the vein in mommy’s neck bulge just a little.
The constant losing of stuff is a source of aggravation to me for two reasons. 1) It somehow becomes my job to find or replace the lost stuff, usually at the very inconvenient 11th hour and 2) I am not now, nor have I ever been, one to lose stuff. I
obsessively keep track of my stuff.
I grew up with not a lot and if I lost my stuff, I would have been transferred from the “grew up with not a lot” category into the “grew up with nothing” category. There just wasn’t any getting more stuff. Period. Papa Ed and Vivian practiced Love & Logic out of necessity, long before it was a parenting philosophy, long before people said stuff like “parenting philosophy”.
Last fall, Sean lost his jacket the very first day he wore it. It was a very distinctive beige and black plaid jacket that I loved that someone had handed down to us. I had an inexplicable sentimental attachment to that jacket — probably because when he wore it with the hood pulled up, all I could see was my own 1st grade face and that melts my heart like butter on a hot waffle.
At any rate, several times a week I would go up to the school and rifle through the lost and found box of MIA lunch boxes, jackets and water bottles looking for that jacket. And let me tell you, that is not an especially pleasant job. That lost and found box falls into the category of “smells not that great.”
Finally I gave the jacket up for lost, grieved it and went to the resale store and bought him a bright orange jacket for $5. I figured that maybe he would be less likely to lose an orange jacket, and if he did, I was only out $5.
But then in the spring time, when it warmed up, Sean came home with the brown and black plaid jacket. Which was now too small. I could never get clear how the jacket resurfaced, if Sean checked the box again and there it was or if at the end of the year, some kind soul looked through the box and saw his name in the jacket and returned it to him. If the jacket could talk, I’d ask where in the heck it had been all year.
And maybe the jacket would say he went home to spend a season with a little boy who was growing up with not a lot.