I know we all misplace things sometimes, but it seems that Katie and Caleb have raised the art of losing stuff to a whole new level.
I don’t know if it’s all kids, or just mine. Routinely, they can’t find their homework, their shoes, or their lunch boxes. I give them their allowance and it disappears somewhere in the twenty feet between the front door and their banks. One day over a year ago, they were playing hide-and-seek with their favorite stuffed animals, and Caleb’s precious penguin, Flipper, hid so well that he hasn’t been seen since.
Perhaps the most exasperating ongoing battle to get them to keep track of their stuff revolves around a little gadget called the Nintendo DS. They had both been saving up forever for this handheld gaming console when Paul and I surprised them last year by springing for the difference as a reward for an especially great set of report cards. Katie got a pink DS, and Caleb’s was red. By the looks on their faces, they thought all their Christmases had come at once, and it didn’t take them long to rip open the packaging and start playing the games that had come with the units.
It took approximately thirty seconds for Katie to lose her stylus for the first time. The stylus is a tiny pen-shaped plastic stick that is essential for using the DS. It slides into a little channel in the back of the DS and clicks into place. Unfortunately, the “click” doesn’t last long for a heavy user, and soon the stylus slides freely out place any time the unit is tilted. I have lost track of all the times either Katie or Caleb has lost a stylus. Paul and I used to participate in the ritual combing of the house, turning over pillows and looking under beds until the wayward plastic nuisance was located, but after the first thousand times, we stopped doing that, hoping that the irritation of having to search all alone would motivate the kids to keep better tabs on their things. I’m sure it’s going to start working any day now.
And it’s not just the styluses (styli?). The games, which are about the size of breath mints, also go missing regularly. While they’re playing, Caleb and Katie have a bad habit of tossing the game they just removed from the DS onto whatever surface is handy–bed, floor, table. It’s not unusual for me to run across loose games while I’m cleaning the house, often just before I almost vacuum them up. I used to take the games away for a week when I found them out of their cases, but that didn’t seem to help. They just turned to the next game and waited with annoying patience for the “jailed” game to be free again.
Finally, though, they lost something they do care about. A few weeks ago, they misplaced their one remaining working charge cable. Neither of them was sure where they had lost it. Maybe at a friend’s house where they spent the evening. Maybe at home amidst the carnival of crud holding sway in their bedrooms. No idea. We’ve searched, we’ve called, we’ve checked everywhere they can remember having it, but it has not turned up. It’s been a DS-free zone at our house for almost a month. Paul and I, meanies that we are, flat out refused to buy a new cable to replace the one that had been lost. At last, today, the kids broke down and asked if I would take them to the store to buy new cables out of their allowance.
So that’s what we did.
Paul thinks that having to spend $15 each of their own precious savings to replace the cables will act as a good incentive to be more responsible. I sure hope he’s right.
As for me, I’ll keep watching where I vacuum.