There are certain times of the day that it’s just not okay to mess with me. And by okay, I really mean “safe.” Dangerous things happen to people who wake me up from a rare nap to ask me if we have any aluminum foil. I usually respond by pointing out that I keep all of the foil products next to my bullets and that I dare them to reach for it.
So when I recently returned at nine pm from a four-day trip to London that only involved about sixteen total hours of sleep, I should have thought to put out a sign for my family that warned them away from sudden movements, loud noises, and dumb-assed questions. Unfortunately, it was my oldest child (the one who knows she’s smart and cute and talented but yet somehow still believes that all of that will be enough to save her from being eaten by her mother) who descended upon me with more than I could intelligently handle.
CHILD: I’ve lost something really important. Have you seen it?
ME: If it isn’t in my suitcase or my carry on bag, I haven’t seen it.
CHILD: I really need it.
ME: When did you lose it?
ME: I was in another country yesterday. I’m sure I didn’t take it.
CHILD: It’s really, REALLY important that I find it.
ME: How about you start by telling me what it is?
CHILD: I can’t.
CHILD: I can’t tell you. You’ll get mad.
ME: Oh. Well. That’s a whole other issue. It’s a good thing that you’re being all cryptic and toying with me in my sleep deprived state. It’s really good that I didn’t see the thing, because THAT would make me mad. Not all this other stuff you’re doing right now, but actually FINDING the thing would be what threw me over the edge.
CHILD: See? I told you! You’ll get mad!
ME: We haven’t found it yet. You told me I’d get mad if I saw it. So technically, I can’t get mad yet, right?
CHILD: I dunno. I guess so.
ME: Why don’t we just cut this short while I’m not quite mad. Tell me what you’ve lost.
CHILD: Well, fine. You just have to promise not to get mad.
ME: If there’s one solid truth that you can count on in life, it is that I will NEVER make you that promise.
CHILD: I lost my suicide prevention card.
ME: (blank stare…sip of wine)
CHILD: They gave us these cards in school to keep in our backpacks and they have a phone number we can call if we’re thinking about committing suicide, only I lost my card.
ME: And you thought I would be mad because you lost it?
CHILD: No, I just didn’t want you to find the card lying around somewhere and get worried.
CHILD: Oh wait, I remember. It’s in my lunchbox. Never mind.
Admittedly, that was probably the easiest game of Mommy Lost-and-Found that I’ve ever played, and it was actually over something that she didn’t need for school the next day. Victory is mine.