Sunday, November 11, 2012

Losing It

Katie's had the same pair of glasses for nearly a year and a half, an impressive accomplishment considering she's lost them several times.  She's generally pretty good about wearing them, but a couple of times we've been rushed in the morning and got all the way to school before either of us realized she wasn't wearing her glasses.  I offered to go back home and bring them to her, but she claims she can see pretty well without them.  The last time she spent the day sans glasses, I asked her how it went when I picked her up from school.

"Fine.  Ms. B let me walk up to the board if I needed to see anything."

I know times have changed since I was in first grade and forced to sit still, facing the front of the class in neat rows, but despite Katie's more free-thinking teacher's understanding that six-year-olds need to mill about the room, it seems like an unnecessary distraction in class to have Katie pop out of her seat each time she needs to see what's on the board.  I made a mental note to be more diligent about seeing Katie off with her glasses each day.  

Apparently I lost the mental note within the recesses of my cobwebby mind.  We got all the way to her boyfriend's birthday party yesterday before I noticed Katie'd left her glasses at home.  No big deal.  It's a party, not school.  This way she could more easily wear the Spider-Man mask--excuse me, Spider-Woman mask, as she kept correcting us--like the other kids at the party.

On our way home, we stopped at Petsmart to get some enzymatic cleaner.  With two dogs that like to raid the trash for snacks and then empty the contents of their gluttonous stomachs onto the floor, and a prissy cat that protests my housekeeping skills by peeing on the back door whenever his litter box isn't pristine, we go through about a gallon of the stuff every couple of months.

I heaved the container onto the counter to pay for it.  I reached inside my bag to pull out my wallet, checking out of the corner of my eyes to see where Will and Katie had wandered off to.  They were consoling the caged birds.  Wait a minute.  Where the hell is my debit card?  Why isn't it in its slot inside my wallet?

"Will, could you come pay?"  I called him over.

"What's wrong?" he asked, approaching the counter.

"My debit card is gone."  My heart picked up its pace and I began breathing deeply to stop my body from breaking out into a cold sweat.  As an adult-child of not just one but two accountants, I'm too hard on myself when I make foolish financial mistakes.  Like losing my bank card.

Back in the car, riding shotgun, I searched frantically throughout my bag for the card.  Despite my knowledge of Einstein's quote about the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result, I zipped and unzipped my wallet, checking its contents to see if the bank card miraculously reappeared.

It didn't.  Instead, I discovered my driver's license was missing too.

I'm generally one of those people who expects the best of all people.  I'm the one whose immediate assumption was that the guys in the parking lot of the apartment we used to live in were punching everyone's car windows because they wanted to make sure everyone had their windows rolled up during the storm.  In my defense, I was not fully conscious as I had just woken in the middle of the night to let the cat in from the storm.  It wasn't until a car alarm began shrieking and the guys scattered that I realized they were not good Samaritans looking out for their neighbors' belongings but instead criminals wanting to steal their neighbor's stuff.

This time, fully awake and perhaps more jaded from life in general, when I noticed it was my own driver's license and bank card that were missing, my first thought was, "Do you think someone at the party took them out of my wallet?"

"Someone at the seven year old's birthday party?"  Will asked.

"Well, I don't know!"  I argued.  "How could they have just vanished?"

"Check the washing machine," Will suggested.

Why does he have to be so calm and rational at these times?  Hmpf!  Just because the washing machine is where I found my wedding ring that one time after I'd been making Play-Doh creations with Katie and shoved my ring into my jeans' pocket doesn't mean that's where everything I lose turns up.  The last time I lost my driver's license, I found it in my car, thank you very much.  "Why would my bank card and my driver's license be in the washing machine?"  I asked, defensively.

Will could have matched my snotty tone.  Instead, he smiled and gently broke it to me,  "I don't know, Babe.  It seems to be a pattern with you."

"But why would I have stuck them in my jeans?  I've been so diligent about keeping them in my wallet this year," I whined.

"I bet you did it at the Moose Lodge when we went to see JJ's band play."

"The Moose Lodge!"  I scoffed.  I'm forty-one.  No one checked my ID.  We payed for our pitchers of beer with cash.  Will obviously didn't know what he was talking about.  "That was a week ago," I argued.  "Wouldn't I have noticed by now my driver's license and bank card were both missing?"

"Have you bought anything this week?"  Will's eyes never left the road.  He drives with his hands on ten and two like he was taught in Driver's Ed class.  Driver's Ed got in the way of my dreams of running off to some sort of public transit Mecca like London or New York or San Francisco.  When I was sixteen I swore I'd never set foot behind an environmentally reprehensible automobile's steering wheel.  What was the point of taking Driver's Ed?  Of course when my parents bought me a 1976 Super Beetle from one of my mom's co-workers, I changed my mind.  Even if it meant showing up to friends' parties smelling like rotten eggs from the car's bad catalytic converter.  I never did take Driver's Ed, though, as Will likes to point out when he's in the passenger's seat.

"Uh, um.  I went to Costco, but I wrote a check."  I can't pay with my debit card at Costco without my dad's naggy voice at the back of my head reminding me they consider it an ATM transaction and my bank account will get charged twenty cents.  I'm never prepared enough to run by the bank first to withdraw some cash, so I always write checks at Costco and feel pleased with my accountants' daughter self that I managed to save about thirteen cents on the transaction.

"Check the washer,"  Will's tone implied he was done arguing with me, so I dropped it til we got home.

As we entered the doorway, we were greeted with a hairball and two dogs panting at the back door, Halloween candy wrappers strewn about the kitchen floor.  This time I was prepared with the new enzymatic  spray.

After I took care of the pets' mess, I headed down to the basement to prove Will wrong, although I was honestly rooting for his side this time because it would be so much easier to find them in the washer than to have to dig through the mound of dirty clothes, checking all my pants' pockets since I couldn't remember the last time I used either card, let alone what pants I was wearing.

When I opened the washer lid a musty smell punched my nostrils.  Ugh.  How long have these clothes been sitting in here?  My brain switched into automatic pilot and I turned on the washer to re-wash the stinky clothes.  Not only have I not moved to a more public transit-friendly community, I have yet to break my bad habit of irresponsible coal consumption by washing our clothes multiple times before they make their way into the dryer.

The washer was nearly half-full of soapy water before I remembered why I was standing there.  "Oh shit!"  I said to the empty room.  I plunged my hands into the cold water, pulling out a pair of jeans to check the pockets.  Nothing.  See.  Will doesn't know what he's talking...

Then I saw it.  Floating on top of the water was my driver's license and three wet dollar bills.  Oh yeah, now that I think about it I did put my ID and some cash into my pocket before we went inside the Moose Lodge.  I didn't want to bring in my heavy bag.  But what about my bank card?  The water was too high to keep digging around, so I decided that if it really was in there a second wash wouldn't hurt it.  I went back upstairs to report my findings.

I found Katie playing in her room.  "I found my driver's license!  Daddy was right.  It was in the washer."

"Good," she said, looking up from her Legos.

It was then that I saw she still didn't have on her glasses.  "Did you look for your glasses, Sweetie?"

"Oh, no, I forgot," she said without indicating she was going to stop playing.

"Well, come on!  Let's look!"  I commanded.

When we finally found them sitting on top of her play kitchen, I put them back on Katie's face and barked, "OK!  Now, I don't want you taking these off your face any more unless it's bedtime or you're taking a bath and then I want you to show me exactly where you are laying them," I paused to take a breath.  "Do you understand me?!"

Katie looked down at her feet and nodded her head like she does when she's about to cry.

Oh no.  This is nothing to cry about.  "Sweetie, are you OK?"  I asked, lifting up her chin.  Her eyes were glassy.

She nodded again and looked back down.

"What's wrong?"  I asked.  I knew, but I didn't want to admit it to myself.

Katie said nothing and kept looking at her feet.

"Was I too rough with my glasses comment?"  I sat down so I could see her six-year-old face.  I exhaled forcefully, trying to blow out my bad mood.

She looked up and nodded.  I smiled and she smiled back.  I know I can be an asshole like my dad sometimes, but at least I try to catch myself before I get too bad.  "I'm sorry, Sweetie," I grabbed the back of her neck and pulled her toward me for a hug.

"Why you gotta yell at me about my glasses, Mommy?  You losed stuff too," she pointed out, her voice cracking.

"Oh, Sweetie.  I'm sorry.  And you're right.  I think I really wanted to yell at myself," I had to look up at the ceiling to keep the tears from spilling out of my eyes.

"Why you wanna yell at yourself?" she asked, her voice growing stronger.

"I don't know."  There was no reason for it.  I looked at her sweet face.  "It doesn't help to yell at anyone, does it?"

"Nope."  She smiled and we squeezed each other.

We went downstairs to watch a video with Will on his computer.  All he said when I told him he was right, that my driver's license was inside the washer, was, "Good!" in the exact same tone as Katie.  No, "Well, what about your bank card?"  Which is what I would have said, if I wasn't paying careful attention to my words, if he had been the one to lose them.  Instead, he let it go, trusting in my abilities to find it eventually.

I listened for the washer to stop and when it did, I got up from my seat at Will and Katie's side to go into the laundry room.  I opened the lid to the washer and was welcomed with a subtle lavender scent.  It all came out in the wash.  Relief.  And there it was, my bank card sitting atop the fresh load.