Kids and Forgetfulness: When Will They Stop Losing Stuff?


If you have children, do they lose things as much as mine do? Seriously, my elderly mother shouldn’t be as worried about her forgetfulness as her grandchildren should be about theirs. Sure, Mom will sometimes tell us things more than once, forgetting that she’s already told us.  But that’s really no big deal compared to the frequency and price tag of my kids’ forgetfulness (both the actual value of items lost as well as the time lost searching for the items!!!).  I read in the newspaper today that in a recent analysis of the Houston Public Library’s delinquency records, The Houston Chronicle found that 119,558 patrons have failed to return 325,000 items since 1999.  The article’s author gives you the impression that those patrons don’t return items because they want to keep them, but I had to smile and wonder if he’d never had kids before.  I’ll bet a bunch of those losses were related to kids’ irresponsibility and forgetfulness.   Been there, done that.


I decided to do a little “analysis” of our own kids’ losses (at least the major ones I can remember), both library and non-library-related, over the past 16½  years that Andy and I have been parents:


Item Lost                                                                                      Value


One pair of eyeglasses                                                                $80


Left on the school playground by Emmie within two weeks of her excitedly getting them.  They were dark brown with aqua accents, from the “oh-so-cool” High School Musical line of specs at JC Penney Optical.  She took them off to do an upside-down stunt and gave them to a friend to hold. The friend put them in the seat of a swing, and Emmie forgot about them until she got home an hour later.  The only consolation for her was that when she checked the Lost and Found drawer in the school office to see if anyone had turned them in, she found her first pair of eyeglasses, lost several months before…



A custom-molded, upper and lower retainer
(for teeth)                                                                    $600 ($300 each)


Lost by Allison within two months of getting her braces off.  She took them out and put them inside her paper lunch sack while she ate lunch in the high school cafeteria. She asked a friend to remind her not to throw the bag away. The friend forgot, and so did Allison.



Two library items                                                 $34 (about $17 each)


One a children’s book, the other a Jeff Dunham DVD. The book was discovered under Emmie’s bed, tucked under an old scrapbook, several years after losing it, while emptying her room when we moved out of our first house; the DVD was discovered under the living room sofa about a year after losing it. Not sure who kicked it under there but I doubt it was an adult.  We had long ago paid the “replacement fee” for both items so we now own them. (And we still haven’t watched the DVD!)



One American Girl “Bitty Baby” doll
                                  Irreplaceable


Emmie left “Paulina” under the covers in a hotel room in Cameron, MO one summer while on our way to Iowa. Luckily it happened on the outbound part of the road trip, and luckily someone saved it, so we were able to drive there and retrieve the doll on the way home, even though we would have preferred driving back a different way.



One cranberry red Snuggie                                                            ????


A favorite of Allison’s which she left among the covers at a hotel in Shreveport, Louisiana (and which I mistook to be part of the hotel bed linens).   Again, it was while on a road trip, so we made a special stop to get it while on the way back.



One wallet                                      $40 (amount of cash that was inside)


Set down by Allison “just for a minute” while taking photographs at Mt. Rushmore while she was on a church mission trip in South Dakota. When she remembered to retrieve it, it was gone.



One freshman-year high school yearbook                                      $60


On the day the yearbooks were issued, Allison left it on a bench behind her in the locker room as she changed clothes later in the day, after drill team practice. When she turned to get it, it was gone (and had no identification inside or out, so it would have been an easy sell for the thief, no doubt, or could have easily been passed off as their own…)


This list could also include numerous sunglasses and makeup compacts; shoes, clothes and socks left at friends’ houses, and lost earrings, charms and necklaces never to be seen again—not to mention many more overdue library books that were found in the nick of time.  But I’ll end the list here so I don’t get too depressed. 


Do Andy and I always pay to replace lost items? No.  Emmie now wears those “original” glasses even though they may not be as stylish as the newer ones she lost; Allison didn’t get a replacement yearbook, and had to almost empty a savings account she’s had going since she was little in order to pay for the new retainers.  We think it will make them take better care of their stuff if they’re financially responsible for it. But will it really? 


Emmie took her lunch to school today in a brown paper sack because, while she had a pretty good “first day of Junior High” yesterday, she left her brand new lunch tote on the floor next to her locker after school, the same paisley lunch tote for which I’d helped her find a cute ID tag to tie on, and I’d written her name and address on it as well.  When I picked her up from school, she ran back inside the building after I asked her “Where’s your lunch bag?”, and it wasn’t there.  Let’s hope she can remember to stop by the school office today to see if some nice person found it and turned it in.  But I’m not holding my breath. 

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