There are children nearby shivering barefooted in the cold. There are mothers gnashing their teeth as they set the table. There are families frantically searching for their matching beach towels. And I could help them all, if I only knew who they were.
Over the summer, my home began to fill with things left behind. I have three nice hooded sweatshirts, two pair of shoes, at least four beach towels I know I didn’t buy, two forks, a spoon and a drinking glass. And finally, I found a cheesy romance novel. No surprise that was never claimed.
First, I have to ask myself how you arrive in a pair of shoes, leave without them and don’t notice? Surely, the next day, something must seem awry when you go to put them on and they aren’t there, no? Apparently someone has more shoes than I do, or these weren’t their favorite pair.
I have asked every teen who traipsed through to please see if anything looked familiar. They did. Nothing was claimed. I feel dreadful that these expensive items (have you priced a quality beach towel lately?) can’t find their way home, but I’m at a loss. I’d try DNA testing, but I thoughtlessly washed everything.
I know that I have gotten crazy trying to figure out where half the forks to my stainless went while all the knives remained. That syndrome is beginning to make a bit more sense. Still, I never recall my children leaving the house with their meal in their hands … well, not a meal that required a fork, anyway.
This would all seem far more odd if I wasn’t privy to the lost and found department at school. Based on the clothes left behind there, children must be leaving school in nothing but their skivvies. Oh, and buy stock in school lunch boxes. More than one child out there is averaging one a week.
I also suspect that the towels weren’t actually left behind. I fear they were the stolen property from every pool or beach party my children attended. Yes, I’m embarrassed. It wasn’t intentional, but the towels left the premises wrapped around my child and were dumped in our laundry room.
I’ve been mulling over possible solutions for this absent-minded-teenager, traveling-flotsam syndrome. My first thought was to fill a rolling cart and take it with me as I wander around town. There’s a good chance another mom might recognize their stainless pattern or the stripe of those towels. I considered some sort of Internet site where you can post photos of your collection, but who has time for that? Perhaps we need to start putting identification chips in absolutely everything our children touch and equip every household with a scanner and screen.
Too much? All right then. You thought sixth-grade camp was the last time you’d have to do this, didn’t you? I’m afraid not. As long as we have children at home, we apparently need to label everything we own that’s not too heavy to lift.
It could take a while, but just think of it. Eight forks, eight spoons, eight knives, right when you need them. Hand me that permanent marker.
Jean Gillette is the Community News editor for The Coast News Group. As a journalist, she primarily worked in San Clemente and Los Angeles. She has been with the Coast News for 20 years and lives in La Costa.