Misplaced items replaced with lost feeling

How did I know school had officially started? I received a cell phone call from my niece, who rides the same bus as my son, that he had forgotten his history homework and needed it delivered to school.

This was the same kid who had answered “no” earlier that weekend when asked if he had any homework. Knowledge there had been homework (completed on his Friday night bus ride home) might have tipped me off to look for it during Sunday night round-up of all things school toward a saner Monday morning.

“Well, you didn’t ask if I had any homework I had finished that we just needed to transfer to my backpack,” he said in a reasonable tone when confronted. Guess it’s my fault, again, due to my faulty questioning process. I’ll have to step it up a notch.

I can’t report this as an isolated incident. It’s part of a larger, ongoing pattern of absent-mindedness. Lost items are par for the course, or perhaps I should say part and parcel for my son. Wish I could put a tracer on his stuff the way UPS does with actual parcels,  except I’d have to hire a part-time, follow-up assistant.

By the time I arrived at his middle school fifth-grade orientation at 7:40 AM the first day of school, he had already managed to lose the hooded sweatshirt he’d been wearing when he got on the school bus an hour earlier. That requires a special talent not possessed by everyone. He arrived home later that day sans lunchbox.

This past week, it was the lunchbox again for two days, plus his glasses, which I’ve threatened to put on an old lady-style glasses chain, except he would probably lose that, too. So I’ll skip the expense. My son is inquisitive and artistic. He never forgets the notebooks, drawing pads, books and pencils that are important to him, just stuff that’s blood-pressure-raising to the rest of us.

It was only fitting that after years of snarling over his missing items, I hypocritically lost something important of mine over the summer: My main set of car keys. The ones with the key chain made by a since deceased friend, the keys to other people’s houses and the automatic lock mechanism. Of course.

There's nothing quite like losing your keys to unlock inner disgust.

As a twisted form of justice, I made my son retrace my steps with me. It wouldn’t have been an ordeal had I know what day I lost the keys. But I’ve always fished from my purse the first available key set and thus didn’t realize the main set was missing until mid-August. It had been kind of nice to grab only the spare set that contains only house and car keys and doesn’t imply I’m the maintenance guy at a housing complex, until the “why” registered.

The last time I could recall using the main set of keys was early-July, when I used the automatic unlock on the car trunk in Jackson. That narrowed the “when” to a five-week period that included many stops across four counties.

I started my search in Jackson, then on to Marshall on the way home. I didn’t really think I had lost them there; however, like the drunk who was spotted one night looking for his keys under a streetlight, I preferred looking where the light was better (and closer).

With three Jackson and eight Marshall locations ruled out, I continued my key search in Battle Creek. To my chagrin, the window of time in question coincided with when I was seeking a replacement patch for my daughter’s favorite shirt. Great! That meant also checking at multiple fabric stores.

We canvassed 17 Battle Creek and Kalamazoo retail locations with no luck, just amazement at how many other lost keys littered business lost and found boxes. My carelessness and I are in good company. It’s a wonder any cars are left on the road!

The Friday before Labor Day, I finally located my keys at the Branch County Courthouse. I had lost them while covering the Foley murder re-trial.  We embraced like long, lost friends. My son made me hang them up once we got home. “I can’t take much more of your carelessness, Mom!”

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