One of my idiosyncrasies is being absent minded. I lose everything: keys, hats, jackets, handbags, shoes, lipsticks etc. Not a day goes by in our house that I don’t wander around looking for something like a character on Days of our Lives who has recently woken from a coma with amnesia. This morning it was my sunglasses. I saw the case on my desk but as I never put them back in the case, I didn’t even bother to look there. I searched handbags, drawers, the car then finally as a last resort, opened the case and there they were. I was surprised to find them in such an obvious and sensible location. When I come home, my belongings just seem to disperse from my person without my knowledge or consent. Nothing has a home. It’s supposed to in theory but in reality, my personal items fan out around the house like shrapnel.
I have lost my wallet many times. About 2 years ago I got a knock on the door and there were two kind policemen who had come to return my wallet. Someone had found it on the street in my neighbourhood and handed it in at the police station. I hadn’t even realised it was missing. Last May I lost it again and did realise. But I wasn’t worried; I assumed I’d just misplaced it around the house like usual. Several days went past and it still hadn’t turned up. I got by with raiding George’s wallet for petty cash but I was starting to get a bit more concerned simply because I would need my credit cards to go shopping. Sitting up in bed that night I wondered aloud to George about where it had got to. He shot up like a geyser exclaiming “What? You still haven’t found it??? Someone has probably stolen it. We need to check our online credit card statement.” I still wasn’t worried but to appease a stressed man I calmly logged into our online banking on my phone. That’s when a shock shot up my spine and it was me who shot up like a geyser. “Oh no! Someone HAS stolen our card!” I burst out as I looked at the last purchase on the top. George paced around with a grim look that seemed to say “I knew this would happen you foolish woman”.
I went on…“Somebody spent $50 yesterday at Sussan!!!”
George’s face instantly changed. “That was me. I bought you pyjamas for mothers day” he said dryly.
In an instant, the excitement of all the drama came to an abrupt end. I found my wallet the next morning under a couch cushion.
Evidently this characteristic is making its way through my family tree. Do you find that the most annoying qualities of any child you have produced are invariably those they have inherited from you? Miss 9 and I are a lot alike. I like her. I admire her. I wouldn’t change her. We laugh, enjoy each others company and also butt heads like a pair of angry rams particularly when I am irritated by her behaviour, even though it’s often like looking in a mirror.
Like her mother, she misplaces everything. Lunch boxes, shoes, hairbands, hair brushes, drink bottles and the hats…oh the hats – I have lost count! I have started buying $2 replacements from the op-shop to try and put a ceiling on my frustration levels when she inevitably loses them. Whenever I tell her to grab her hat, she starts wandering around like Bo Peep and I feel a surge of annoyance. I have to remind myself in that moment that we are EXACTLY the same! She forgets her instrument on band day. Then if she does remember it, she forgets to bring it home. I rarely get a note home from school. But occasionally this does work in my favour…
“Excuse me…Carrie…did you make it to the parents’ gardening day this morning to overhaul our compost heap and veggie patch?”
“Oh, I’m sorry, I never got the note.” I say honestly, silently thanking my forgetful offspring.
But mostly it just makes me look like an idiot when I arrive at school and have no idea about the special event/assembly/parent-teacher interviews/*insert important educational occasion here.
But it’s not her fault. I must place the blame where it truly belongs: with my father ‘Arnie’. He is the source of the problem. Arnie has turned his absent-mindedness into a multi-generational legacy. He is so forgetful that, some years ago, he ordered a memory-boosting program online to be delivered. When he was looking at his credit card statement a week or so later he had no idea what the charge was for. He had to call the company and ask what it was he’d paid $100 or so for. Money well spent, obviously.
What can I learn from all this? I think simply to be more patient and sympathetic with my child. The poor girl has decades of losing lipsticks & the like ahead of her and she only has genetics to blame for her distracted demeanour. I can then blame my offending parent who started this mess. But if Miss 9 and I do argue over a missing hat/umbrella/jacket/*whatever one day, and sound more like Emily & Lorelai than Lorelai & Rory, does it really matter? We will both wake up tomorrow and forget it ever happened.