Michelle Martin

Lost and found

Thursday, March 7, 2019

I think I have an appointment with the school lost and found when I pick up Teresa this afternoon.

This morning, when she was getting dressed, we couldn’t find her school sweater. Not in her dresser, not on top of her dresser, not in her backpack where she is sure she left it.

It was new, too, and only available through special order at the school. And, to make matters worse, I know I didn’t write her name in it. I thought about it the first day she wore it, but my silver Sharpie was upstairs and she needed to leave and I intended to do it later. I never did.

Even so, I asked her to look in her classroom, and failing that, to check the lost and found.

“But it was in my backpack,” she said. “In the section with my lunch box. I didn’t take it out. You or dad must have taken it.”

Neither I nor her dad have any recollection of taking it out, and we’re pretty sure that if we did, we would have either tossed it in the laundry (not there either) or put it away. But it is possible, which I explained to her, that we did misplace it. If that’s what happened, then it’s in the house somewhere and will likely turn up sooner rather than later.

But it’s also just possible that she forgot to put it in her backpack when she took it off the last time she wore it, in which case it could be in her classroom, hanging on her hook in the cloakroom or in the school-wide lost and found.

So, on the chance that the sweater was at school, I asked her to check.

“No,” she said. “I know I brought it home.”

“Then I’ll check when I pick you up,” I said.

Truth be told, I’m torn. She’s old enough to look for herself, and she’s the one who will face the consequence of losing her sweater: not having a sweater. Or really, not having that sweater, in the cool new style. She still has her old sweater.

But I paid for the sweater, and I don’t want to see my money go to waste, and I don’t want my children to assume that if they lose something, it will automatically be replaced at no cost or inconvenience to them. I want them to get the idea that we have to be careful stewards of our resources.

It’s a human impulse — or, judging by Jesus’ parable of the lost sheep, even a divine impulse — to search for what we’ve lost. So I probably will visit the lost and found, and if that doesn’t work, go back through everyone’s laundry basket and all the dresser drawers. And probably say another prayer to St. Anthony along the way.

Update: The missing sweater was found the next day in a basket of clean laundry.



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