Jackets Lost And Found

So far we have had two chilly mornings.  So far Sean has worn a jacket to school two times. So far Sean has lost two jackets.

So this morning, as he put on his 3rd and final jacket, I said to him that his first order of business today was to locate the other two jackets.

“Mom,” he said, “If the jackets are not claimed within so many days they give them to someone who does not have a jacket.”

“Sean,” I said, “That someone without a jacket may be you if you don’t come home with your jackets.”

And I was not kidding.  I am a big proponent of Love & Logic parenting. If he comes home with no jackets today, tomorrow he will be mighty chilly as he walks to school.

After seven years of parenting, I have yet to discover how to teach this child to keep track of his stuff.  I have tried to teach him that when you do not return things to their proper place, they become lost.  When you just put things down wherever you are done with them, they are not in their proper place and therefore — become lost.  When you do not put mommy’s scissors back in her desk, the proper place of scissors, they are not there when mommy wants to use them, and they become lost.  And that makes the vein in mommy’s neck bulge just a little.

The constant losing of stuff is a source of aggravation to me for two reasons.  1) It somehow becomes my job to find or replace the lost stuff, usually at the very inconvenient 11th hour and 2) I am not now, nor have I ever been, one to lose stuff.  I obsessively keep track of my stuff.

I grew up with not a lot and if I lost my stuff, I would have been transferred from the “grew up with not a lot” category into the “grew up with nothing” category.  There just wasn’t any getting more stuff.  Period.  Papa Ed and Vivian practiced Love & Logic out of necessity, long before it was a parenting philosophy, long before people said stuff like “parenting philosophy”.

Last fall, Sean lost his jacket the very first day he wore it.  It was a very distinctive beige and black plaid jacket that I loved that someone had handed down to us.  I had an inexplicable sentimental attachment to that jacket — probably because when he wore it with the hood pulled up, all I could see was my own 1st grade face and that melts my heart like butter on a hot waffle.

At any rate, several times a week I would go up to the school and rifle through the lost and found box of MIA lunch boxes, jackets and water bottles looking for that jacket.  And let me tell you, that is not an especially pleasant job.  That lost and found box falls into the category of “smells not that great.”

Finally I gave the jacket up for lost, grieved it and went to the resale store and bought him a bright orange jacket for $5.  I figured that maybe he would be less likely to lose an orange jacket, and if he did, I was only out $5.

But then in the spring time, when it warmed up, Sean came home with the brown and black plaid jacket.  Which was now too small.   I could never get clear how the jacket resurfaced, if Sean checked the box again and there it was or if at the end of the year, some kind soul looked through the box and saw his name in the jacket and returned it to him.   If the jacket could talk, I’d ask where in the heck it had been all year.

And maybe the jacket would say he went home to spend a season with a little boy who was growing up with not a lot.

22 thoughts on “Jackets Lost And Found

  1. Precisely why I don’t spend a lot on kid’s clothes (well, that and the fact that there isn’t a lot to spend.)
    On the plus side, though, we have found some awesome things, too.
    The comment by Sally, above is the reason we only buy one style of same-colored socks.
    And EVERYONE in my house knows EXACTLY where Mama’s scissors belong!
    So glad you’re writing again!


  2. I wish I could tell you it gets better as kids get older, but….My youngest daughter is now a junior in high school, but just last week she came home from a band performance with only one black sock (they have to leave their band uniforms at school, so they have to change into and out of their uniforms there.) Her older sister used to regularly lose her white gloves that are part of the band uniform, when she was in high school. Including right before the very last band performance before she graduated, which meant a quick trip the music store, minutes before the perfomance, to purchase yet another pair of gloves….When my younger daughter started band, I bought three pairs of gloves in case she lost them the way her older sister always did. Turns out she doesn’t lose her gloves, only her socks….


  3. Some wise mothers get their children “gently used” jackets, sweaters, and coats for this very reason. Losing three newly purchased jackets would break any family budget! Vivian

    * * *

    Agreed. Kids clothes is just not something I’m willing to spend money on. We’ve been lucky in that we have had an abundant source of hand-me-downs, many things with the tags still on and so much stuff that often we pass things along that Sean never got the chance to wear.


  4. Oh! The scissors!! Where are they when I want them? Why, wherever the boy left them! Go ahead, look all over the house, you’re sure to find them SOMEWHERE!

    I bought him his very own pair of scissors but he still prefers mine. Sigh.


  5. Even though the Minnesota mornings are cooling off, my 9 year old refuses to wear a jacket in the morning. Which is fine–I just require he have one with him so nobody can call CPS on me. So far, the jacket goes to and from school safely in his backpack. 🙂


  6. Janette – I’ve sifted through garbage and dirty dishes for retainers before…and my kids didn’t even wear them. The things we do for friends.

    My kids never lost jackets but they forgot to wear them home. How does a child who is conscious forget a coat on a 30 degree Febraury day in Illinois? When there is snow on the ground…?They’d get in the car after school and I’d say “Where’s your coat?” And they’d look at themselves with amazement and just say “Oh.” So the next morning, they’d wear the spare coat and when they’d forget THAT one, they’d spend a chilly morning on the bus the next day, because they had no coat. Then they’d come home with two coats and we’d start the game all over again. Fun times.


  7. So happy to be reading your heart warming stories again.
    The lost and found is not so pleasant, that is true, but it’s a field of fresh orchids compared to sifting through the lunch room trash with latex gloves looking for an accidentally discarded dental retainer (which was never found). It was a mission driven by dollar signs, as the new one couldn’t be replaced at resale prices. 🙂


  8. I remember those days! The rule is our house was you put up the toy you are playing with then get out the next toy. My best friends girls would come over every weekend while she worked. She came to pick them up and I went into my son’s play area and told them “YOU KNOW THE RULES” get in here and clean this room up. That was at least 15 years ago and we still laugh and say YOU KNOW THE RULES when someone isn’t doing what they know they are supposed to do. It’s funny now. At the time I was quite upset.

    As a matter of fact, Blake was neater when he was younger then he has been since he hit his teen years. The upside is his dorm room mate has to deal with it now instead of me. 😉


  9. The trick is to have Grandma embroider something they love (a green train, for example) on the front. Then they NEVER want to take the jacket off and the teachers are worried about the flushed, sweaty little boy who refuses to take off his hoodie sweatshirt no matter what the thermostat says.


  10. I love your writing! so glad you are back. We had the same problem with our kids, so one year I had their names embroidered on the left front of their jackets. Scott lost his the first time he wore it, and even with his name on the front in big letters, it never resurfaced.


  11. The amazing thing to me as a teacher is that when kids leave jackets in my room (I teach 150), I hold onto them for a few days–hang them up on the board–ask if anyone left their jacket. NO ONE EVER CLAIMS IT. I don’t know if it’s a form of social embarrassment to have your teacher hold up a jacket and say, “Who does this belong to?” (I KNOW it should “to whom does this belong”) but no takers.

    * * *
    If your students are like Sean, they are probably completely unaware they even lost a jacket. If I didn’t ask Sean, “Where is your jacket?” he would not have a clue his was missing. Although. Sometimes a few days go by before I realize we are down to one jacket.


  12. Through my tears I will tell you that today, a cold morning in GA, I was frantically looking for the uniform sweater, fleece jacket, and sweatshirt for my two girls. Nothing. No knowledge of where they might be. Nothing. So, off they went in too-small stuff. I went to the school and searched for the lost items. Thankful that I found everything and that we can start all over tomorrow.


  13. We had this conversation with our oldest who will be 5 next week. He’s already lost his jacket twice in the last 2 weeks. He went today without one. And the middle child keeps losing her water bottle. The youngest just breaks everything. They are all so good at putting everything away at the house (because we have drilled this into their heads here) but at school/daycare they just do not seem to be able to keep track of things. Not sure if it’s because they take them off outside if they get hot there and then run off and play and forget??? It is enough to drive you crazy though!!

    P.S. – very happy to have you back!!


  14. That last line made me cry. I really need to sort through my winter things & get the stuff I didn’t use last year to my church’s clothes closet.


  15. We have had the same thing. And the annoying thing is that it had to be a uniform hoodie…and it cost something like $30. So I waited and waited and sent her to school chilly and then fiiiiinally I coughed up the dough to get her a new hoodie. And then a few months later the old one just popped up. I couldn’t decide whether to be happy about it or a little annoyed. And she still likes the old one better..even though they are exactly the same. Whatevs.


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