Parenting a nine-year-old, after you stop wondering if you have a poltergeist, you start wondering if you’ve lost your mind


We’ve had problems with lost items in the past, in this apartment, which have nothing to do with H.o.p. I had long ago concluded there are teeny tiny blackholes abounding that science knows nothing about, which suck up random belongings and very occasionally spits them back out a few months later, though most often the items are gone forever, I guess those of which the black hole elves are especially fond.

Aaaaaah, but week before last it was different. I began to feel like I was losing my mind. Too many items disappeared and the elfen blackholes simply don’t choke down items on a daily basis.

I really knew I must be losing my mind when H.o.p. started yelling for a new little game board he’d made, one with a Red Wall illustration he’d drawn. I could remember having seen it two days after he’d made it and thinking, “That shouldn’t be there, it’ll get lost,” picking up the item while doing a quick straightening up and putting it on the bookshelf next to my desk.

Then here was H.o.p., Sunday, after the the Saturday I’d put up the item, screaming where was it and it wasn’t on the shelf. It wasn’t anywhere. We looked up, down, under and over and it was nowhere to be found. I kept asking H.o.p., “Can you remember when you last had it?”

“I didn’t!” he kept saying. “Don’t ask me again!”

Eventually he calmed and resigned himself to the fact this game he’d made was nowhere to be located.

But it had to be around here somewhere. Usually the elves don’t go running off with tin Altoid cans. I don’t remember ever having lost an Altoid tin to a black hole. Doesn’t happen.

I even dug into the trash, because I remembered that when I’d been cleaning I’d been holding the tin (the one which H.o.p. had turned into a game) in my left hand while throwing some trash away with my right. Had I glazed over and thrown the tin away as well? I went through the trash three times.

I stared at the book shelf.

I cleared out everything under the bed looking for it.

I went through H.o.p.’s drawers. I searched under the sofa-futons. I looked under every pillow and even went through my knapsack.

We once lived in a duplex with a fireplace covered over by a painted piece of tin. We could hear squirrels and birds in it occasionally as the chimney had never been blocked off, wild urban fauna making homes in it. We never found any evidence of the squirrels entering but during the year or so we lived there every earring I had lost its mate. I’d a number of earrings and every single one lost its mate. I didn’t lose a single pair complete, just the mates disappeared. (Carole, hi, it was the earrings you gave me from when you were living in Mexico, plus every other pair of earrings I had at the time.) When we moved out we even took up the gratings and searched down in the heating vents, wondering if our American Bobtail had deposited them down there. No. And moving out all the furniture revealed no secret hiding places.

I always thought it bizarre that it was just the mates of earrings that disappeared, leaving me with one of every pair.

It didn’t occur to me when all the earrings disappeared that I was losing my mind, but with the Red Wall Altoid tin I was wondering what in the hell was going on. Yes, that week H.o.p. has always shown up with an item that had gone missing (except for some sheet music of his) but the accumulative effect was playing with me. By Monday morning after the Saturday I’d put the Altoid tin up, and the Sunday when it disappeared, I was still worrying, “Where is his game? Where is his game?”

Finally, this squeal came from up front. “I found it! I found the game!”

Where had the game been? Situated underneath Elmo in what has become Elmo’s chair, which was originally the highchair where H.o.p. first tasted mashed carrots, then broke down into a table and chair (by design, not force) and the chair’s vinyl upholstery is long cracked and coming apart but H.o.p. loves it so we use the blue table as an end table holding books and Elmo sits in his little blue chair in front of it. And H.o.p. often sits on the floor next to Elmo’s chair with his foot high stack of paper, drawing.

I guess we’ve gotta start keeping an eye on Elmo.

P.S. The person who lived after us in the apartment with the tin-covered fireplace, removed the tin and used the fireplace for a mini personal hydroponic pot farm, the tin hiding. So, I hear! I never saw it myself. It was a duplex and we’d moved to the other side. After the guy moved out and his sister went in to clean the place out for him (which he’d neglected to do) it turned out he had a full wall of stacked, unwashed cat food tins, which explained the flood of roaches we were getting on our side. A few months later we were sitting outside with friends who lived in the neighboring buildings and we started noticing pot plants growing here and there and pulled them up. Well, other people noticed them. I’m bad at identifying plants and wouldn’t recognize a pot plant to save my life, even though I did a biology paper on marijuana in tenth grade and included meticulous drawings of pics found in the encyclopedia. Doesn’t every tenth grader?

Anyway, I figured the wayward pot plants had something to do with squirrels having raided the duplex neighbor’s fireplace.

Just occurred to me that my earrings may have been spread around the yard in little squirrelly hiding places?

3 Replies to “Parenting a nine-year-old, after you stop wondering if you have a poltergeist, you start wondering if you’ve lost your mind”

  1. But why just one of each pair of earrings even if it was a squirrel? I’m trying to imagine a squirrel going to get an earring and saying to itself, “Oh no! Not that one! We’ve got one of those!”

    Did H.o.p. remember putting the game in the Elmo chair?

  2. Because it was a Low Impact Squirrel and was leaving behind the other earrings for squirrels that might follow?

    No, H.o.p. doesn’t remember putting the game under Elmo in the Elmo chair, which is why I think we need to start keeping an eye on Elmo.

    Maybe I’ll just put up a fake surveillance cam on him, like the owner of one shop I once worked at did, before I started work there, with the intention of catching a previous manager who she said she knew had been stealing from her. And she said she made a big deal about it, “Look, surveillance cam for the store!” but it was fake, the real being too expensive for her taste. And she said somehow she caught the woman stealing, via this fake surveillance cam. Told to me very mysterious-like, in a low, hush hush voice, the owner pointing to her head and winking, communicating how smart and cagey and resourceful she was.

    Not to mention mysterious.

    I asked how she had caught the woman stealing with the fake surveillance cam, and she replied, “I have my ways.”

    Did I mention the owner was very mysterious?

  3. Maybe you could locate this owner, have her come in and solve your mysterious pilfering Elmo problem!

    I like Low Impact Squirrel. Maybe he’ll go visit LIM and slowly remove bits of LIM’s integrity. Oh… wait…

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