They lose their sh*t; I lose my mind

For the past 3-6 months, my kids are constantly misplacing or losing things. Important things. Expensive things. I’m not talking umbrellas or paperbacks (tho, those have been lost too). I’m talking keys, phones, wallets, train tickets, money, IDs, jackets, earbuds, hats, thermoses, computer chargers, razors, phone chargers. You name it, they are losing it. Like little costly breadcrumbs, trails of Underhill possessions are scattered everywhere. Berlin, Starnberg, Switzerland, on the trains, at the school.

At least once a week one or both ask me to call their phone so they can locate it. Both have had to run back home after leaving for the day for something critical.  Last week, after both of them were on their THIRD jacket (each having misplaced two!) I thought I was going to pull my hair out. Yesterday morning, Merrie could not find her wallet (which had her train ticket, keys, lunch card, and ID). I found it dangling from the keyhole in the door. And this morning, while running late but seemingly not the least bit concerned about being late, Elliot couldn’t find his wallet (which contain money, lunch card, ID, and train ticket).  I was ready to scream. (Still am, which I guess is why I’m writing.)

After every incident, once I cool down from the surge of anger and frustration, I start to question our parenting and our environment. Have we been too relaxed? Have we emphasized our First Rule of the family (Don’t Panic) too much?  Is the house not properly set up for a place for everything and everything in its place? Are they just disrespectful and so entitled that they don’t appreciate that which they have? Are they so dependent on mommy that they cannot be accountable? Are they so careless and irresponsible?  No,  I don’t think any of those things are true. They are held responsible. They pay for lost items. There are systems in place. They are grateful and respectful. They do experience consequences. They are accountable, and learning more every day about what that means.  Then what is it?

Do they have too much responsibility and are unable to keep all the spinning plates in the air? Possibly, but unlikely. They have great attention and retention when it suits them. More probable is that they are basically just teens, already predisposed to have Absent-Minded Professor Brains, who have their minds elsewhere and who become careless with their possessions. That’s harder to fix and it’s harder to live through. I know it is a blip in the grand scheme but it is Oh-my-god-so-incredibly-frustrating-to-a-control-freak-organized-mother in the daily routine.

I have received a lot of solace (and more than a couple found items) from the recently established Lost and Found office at our school. When I first walked into that area, it felt like the Room of Requirement in Harry Potter. Towers and shelves FILLED with countless lost items, all painstakingly cataloged by dedicated volunteers. God bless them. And god bless all the parents of the owners of all those lost items. They shall inherit the earth, if their kids don’t misplace it.



*  For the record: yes, I know I am behind on blog posts. I have every intention of catching up on the amazing summer/fall and sharing all the fun we had with friends and family here and back in the states. However, other photo projects had to take precedent as I am for the first time trying to navigate international shipping (or lack there of) for the holiday cards and photo gifts for the grandparents, etc.  Larry travels back to the states in a couple weeks and I needed to make sure items are there for him to courier back to me.  


2 thoughts on “They lose their sh*t; I lose my mind

  1. I’m pretty sure it’s just the fact that they’re teenagers. In case you forgot, we were all dumb as a box of rocks during that time in our lives. Hell, I still lose my wallet every now and then. (I usually find it in the back pocket of the pants I was wearing last night.) Stop beating yourself up. Your job is just to make sure they don’t starve and provide them with an environment that they can learn valuable live skills like finding your damn wallet, and remembering to take your keys out of the door.


  2. I concur with the last response. It’s because they are teenagers. Having worked at an independent high school for 14 years, been both a boy scout and girl scout leader, and raising two of my own I will tell you this truth: at that time, teenage years, their brains and their bodies are both growing significantly. Trouble is when their bodies are growing, their brains are not, and vice versa. So it appears both of yours are now in growth spurts. I would add that the inherent stimulation of a new culture and language would put a strain on anyone’s brain. Maybe a priority list?


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