Editor’s note: Matt Keenan is off this week. Enjoy this gem from Oct. 22, 2003.
Children have no short-term memory. Every parent knows this. They can never remember anything they did five hours ago or even five minutes ago. Never is this more true than when your son or daughter needs to locate the shoes that were kicked off moments earlier. They will never remember and often won’t even try.
So out of this parental frustration I’ve carved in sandstone The Ten Commandments of Lost Shoes. And with the return of school, these are rules every parent needs to know.
1. It’s the parent’s fault they are lost. Don’t argue the point. It wastes valuable time. Your child is too busy misplacing something else important. Start looking.
2. Ignore logic and common sense. The shoes are never, ever where they should be. Forget looking near the front door, front porch, in his closet, bedroom, or backseat of the car. That’s too obvious. Never been there, never going there.
3. Where one shoe is found, the other is nowhere close. It’s not in the same room, not in the same county. Shoes grow legs and walk — no, run — into different parts of the house. It happens every night. One of life’s mysteries. Accept it. Don’t attempt to understand it. You have no time for such things. You are late and growing later. Your child, of course, could care less.
4. Soccer shoes are the hardest to find. These shoes have cleats in some unique formation that some soccer geek decided can be used only for soccer. Consequently, these shoes have no real useful purpose other than to play soccer, which really doesn’t count. Next come baseball shoes, then basketball shoes, followed by any shoes your son needs to wear to church. These are all in a special class of shoes that can hide for months at a time.
5. Don’t ask questions. Asking your son or daughter, “Where did you take them off?” will extend the search by five minutes every time you ask. Same with “Where did you leave them?” Yelling at them only prolongs the agony. Blaming your spouse reduces the size of the search party. Remain calm. Exhale.
6. Start times. The closer you are to the event starting, the higher the probability of not finding it in time. ‘Nuf said.
7. Wrong Shoe. When you think you found them, they belong to another sibling. If the pair belongs to the right child, he’s outgrown them. For your daughters, it’s the pair that doesn’t match the dress. Keep looking.
8. Video Games. Always check near the video game console. There is something about kids and video games. The first thing they do is take off their shoes. It helps them reach a new high score. That’s what my son told me once. Next, check under blankets, pillows, sleeping bags and between the empty sacks of Doritos sitting next to the console. You are getting close to jackpot and the soccer game starts in two minutes.
9. There is always something else. Once you find them, and they fit, there is something else missing. Think fast. Most likely suspects: shin guards, batting gloves or water bottles.
10. Mark the Spot. Wherever you eventually find them, mark the spot. That location is where you will find the Blockbuster video rental that’s two weeks past due, the library book checked out in 1997 and the spelling list your son misplaced in 1995. And when you find these, grab them now. Because 10 minutes later they have moved — to some other obscure location you will next find in 2005.
So it’s Saturday morning, and your child’s game begins in just two hours. His shoes — whether you know it or not — are missing. So start at the top of my 10 rules and work your way down. If you begin now, you’ll make the second half.
Freelance columnist Matthew Keenan writes on the first and third Wednesday of the month. His book “Call Me Dad, Not Dude, the sequel” is sold at Barnes & Noble and Amazon. Visit his blog at matthewkeenan.com or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.