I have a kid who loses everything. And when I say everything, I mean that he once came home without shoes. When I asked what happened to them, he was not entirely sure. I don't know if this is a boy thing or not. Maybe he is too involved with his video games and electronics. All I know is that if I sent my daughter to school wearing my diamond wedding ring, I could rest assured that it would make it back in one piece. As for the boy—never. His lunch boxes don't even survive most days.
In the summer, this means lots of lost towels, goggles and sunscreen. That I can live with. The winter is a little harder. The winter requires a lot more paraphernalia which is quite easy to lose: gloves, hats, scarves, snow boots, snow pants, and the dreaded winter coat. Each winter, we usually go through 8-10 pairs of gloves, 7-8 hats, 5-6 fleece hoodies, at least 2 pairs of snow boots and (sadly) we may even have to kiss the winter coat goodbye. Now, this one is harder to say goodbye to because winter coats are expensive! Also, your kid will most certainly freeze to death without one. My husband has suggested making him go without the coat to teach him a lesson. That proposition sounds tempting until social services comes knocking on the door to conduct an investigation.
It is for these reasons (the cost, the potential for hypothermia, and the avoidance of prison time) that, at least twice per winter, I am forced to visit the most disgusting, revolting and vile place known to elementary schools worldwide! It's called:
"The Lost and Found Bin"
Also known as the "Box of Vermin," "Mountain of Mites," or my personal term of endearment: "Bucket o' Lice." Any parent or school educator/administrator will tell you that this place is nasty. If the producers of 20/20 went in there with a bacteria kit, they would undoubtedly discover all kinds of new diseases. The items in there are often months old and usually filthy. The bin is filled with clothes, lunch boxes, and other sundry items which probably originated from good homes, but somewhere along the way, went bad. Alas, no one wants them now. Many parents will just kiss the items goodbye forever rather than approach that bin. This would prove far too expensive for me and parents like me.
Often, you can locate your child's belongings just by eyeballing the pathetic pile of rancid, skid-marked junk. This makes things easy (assuming you brought plenty of Purell for your hands and a large Ziploc bag for storage). But, other times, the pile is so large that you simply cannot get through it without actually touching the stuff. If you've never been prone to panic attacks, this could do it.
Last winter, we had a pretty good run. OK, so the gloves were showing up in singles or not at all, but those are easily replaced. But, then, one day my son came home in below 20 degree weather, shivering and turning blue, and said the words that no mother ever wants to hear: "Mommy, I lost my coat." Oh no! You know what this means? Not the Bucket o' Lice! Please, anything but that! "Honey, will you do it?" I most gently ask my husband. Of course, he has at least 10 excuses which are better than all the ones I came up with.
The next morning, I send the kid to school in last year's coat (which now has sleeves which reach down only to his elbows) and I come to school armed with my rubber gloves, salad tongs and shower cap (for hair protection). I have considered wearing goggles, but seriously, I don't want to embarrass myself!
I roll up my sleeves way up to the shoulders and begin to dig. I dig and dig. Hey! I found that cool Gap sweatshirt he lost the first week of school! And a pair of his gloves! And a random scarf that looks like his, but has no name on it. When in doubt, take it home. Otherwise, it will just end up in Lost & Found purgatory.
On occasion during a dig, a parent may find herself in a quandary. This happens when you spot an adorable girl's size 7 Talbot's sweater just sitting in that pile—unclaimed! So you check out the tag and notice there's no name. Well, you reason with yourself, if the mother had wanted it, she would've come and gone through the trenches by now. She must not even know it's gone. Wow, this would look so cute on my daughter! No, no, no! You stop yourself! Enough of that! You remind yourself: "I am here for one thing only...the kid's coat!" You musn't contemplate theft (although you wonder, if it's "lost" and you "find" it, does it really constitute theft?) Ok, never mind. You forego the Talbot's sweater (this time).
Ten mintues later, there you stand, with a pile of rejected articles of clothing at your feet, the bin totally empty, and no winter coat in sight. This is bad. This is when you think "Jeez! I went through all that, and the coat wasn't even there?!" Well, at least I found a couple of missing things. But, the grossness doesn't stop there. No, you are now stuck with the task of picking up all the items and returning them into the bin! Yuck!
As you depart the premises, you toss your rubber gloves and tongs into the trash and pray that your children will never lose anything again as long as they live.
You stop at Marshall's on your way home to buy your kid another winter coat. By this time, all the good ones are gone. You tell yourself that he'll just have to live with a bright yellow, size 16 girls' coat. It's his own fault.
That afternoon, your kid comes homes miraculously wearing the lost coat! "Hey, you found your coat!" you say. "Yeah," he says. "It was in my locker the whole time." It is at this point that you resist the urge to shriek and throw things, and instead mumble under your breath just as your parents always did: "Just wait until you have kids. You'll get yours."
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.