Saturday, 30 January 2010

Passing The Buck

My daughter has lost her passport.

"Where did you last see it?" we ask. "And when?"

"I don't know!" she wails. "I had it the other day. I saw it on my chest of drawers -- I know it was there!"

I feel like wailing myself: I've got a manuscript to rewrite. I ought to be doing that, not searching all over the house for a lost passport.

"So you keep it on your dresser? That's the only place?"

"Sometimes I keep it in my bag and sometimes I keep it on my dresser."

I happen to know that those aren't the only places she keeps it. Our daughter is smarter than my husband and me, but she's also as scatterbrained as they come. She goes through umbrellas and swimming suits like nobody's business. Last year she managed to lose her cell phone on a dolmuş, causing all sorts of inconvenience. But this is the first time she's lost her passport.

We turn the house upside down. Drawers, bags, pockets, shelves -- all are searched. Every time I look at the computer, I feel guilty. I ought to be writing...

"Not there, I've already looked there!" our daughter cries, seeing us rifle through drawers she has already been through. But the problem is we haven't been through the drawers.

"Just to be on the safe side!" I tell her, reminding her of my lost earrings. I bought the earrings three weeks ago, then promptly lost them. I went through everything in my bag, turned out my drawers, combed over the top of my dresser, but it was no use: the earrings were gone. Two days ago, I was amazed to find them on top of the dresser.

The earring story cuts no ice with my daughter, however. "I've looked everywhere! If it was here, I'd see it!"

We look everywhere. We don't see it.

My husband is not pleased. "Do you think you could have thrown it away?"

This isn't an impossibility. People in this family have been known to put important items into plastic bags when they go shopping. I've found money and credit cards in Tesco bags and once almost threw out a camera someone had left in a plain white plastic bag. Sometimes after the excitement of a shopping trip, the purchase is extracted from the bag which is then abandoned on the floor. Decluttering is something I now do automatically. I make no apologies for this: leave your receipts and Extremely Important Documents lying around on the kitchen counter and I am your worst enemy.

I go through my entire plastic bag collection, which is voluminous, making a few unpleasant finds (bread crusts in one bag, furry with mold; fish bones in another, the smell magically contained all this time) -- but no passport.

Every possible scenario is explored, but that passport is gone. Our daughter, in her anger and frustration, blames our kitten. "She could have done something to it! She's always playing with my stuff!"

I feel a little sorry for her. Up until last year, she had an older sister to blame. Now she's reduced to pointing her finger at the cat.

"The cat couldn't have hidden your passport," we tell her sternly.

"But sometimes she takes stuff of mine! I found my socks under the bed -- and my wallet!"

"Come on," we sigh. "Where could she possibly take your passport?"

The kitten is going through a bad patch right now: at a mere four months, she's already in heat and not happy about being confined indoors. Perhaps that is why she chooses to pee in my hat just as I have settled at the computer and begun to write.

There is no way I can write with a peed-on hat. That manuscript will just have to wait.

Yep, that cat has got a lot to answer for. Maybe she's the one who took my earrings.


Blythe said...

The night before my husband was supposed to leave for New Zealand (AFS--high school exchange) his passport disappeared. It WAS in the trash. To this day it is agreed that his mom REALLY didn't want him to go... In the spirit of solidarity, I offer up my chewed clog. We have a puppy with titanium teeth and the energy of a wind-up weasel.

Rose said...

St. Anthony is the finder of all things lost. Just ask.

Barbara Martin said...

I have misplaced items too, but usually they turn up where you least expect them to be. Sometimes I have to ask my guardian angel where the item is and in less than a minute I'm headed in the correct direction and viola--there it is.

Charlie said...

How frustrating! The trash, by accident, is a definite possibility. God only knows the number of times I've gone trash diving and FOUND what I lost.

If your daughter carries it in her purse or satchel it could very well have been stolen—passports bring in big bucks.

I tend not to believe a kitten did it. But just to be sure, did you look under the sand in her sandbox?

Vijaya said...

Poor kitty. In heat and being blamed ... no wonder she peed in your hat. Did you look under the bed? I sure hope the missing passport turns up ... how very frustrating to lose it.

Kim Ayres said...

Sell her into slavery. That'll teach her...

Mary Witzl said...

Blythe -- Wow. I've felt a little clingy myself, but I can't imagine throwing away my kid's passport! Apart from everything else, the thought of spending money on a new passport would put me right off. Cheapness is more firmly wired into my psyche than the desire to keep my offspring near.

'A wind up weasel'. I just love that image! Hope you can still wear the clog.

Rose -- St. Anthony was consulted. St. Anthony had other commitments, or perhaps other plans for us. I'm telling myself we don't need to cross the border.

I can't help looking for order in the universe; it comforts me.

Barbara -- We've tried everything and looked absolutely everywhere, but on this occasion our guardian angels weren't forthcoming. Still, they've done us proud in all other respects, so I'm not whining.

Charlie -- Believe it or not, yes, we have. We looked in the oven, the refrigerator, the bathrooms (you never know), and the bookcases. Everybody's bags got thoroughly searched and the car has been gone over with a fine-toothed comb. Next stop is the police: you're right about passports. British and American ones are especially popular.

Wonder what a passport looks like after it's passed through a kitten's digestive tract?

Vijaya -- We've looked under every bed, even going so far as to strip our daughter's right down to the mattress. If I can just make it through another day without chirping, "A place for everything and everything in its place," I'll be fine -- and so will our daughter. She's hanging her head in shame enough as it is...

Mary Witzl said...

Kim -- We're going to do something worse. The bathrooms are hers to clean for the next six months. And she's learning how to shine shoes too.

Bish Denham said...

Oh Mary, how frustrating for everyone. Is it very difficult to get a new one where you are?

I wish I could help. I have knack for finding things. For real. I was often teasingly accused by my family of taking/hiding stuff just so I could find it. Hubby, who has a tendancy to put stuff down, not remember where he set it, and then spend hours in a frustrated search, has been amazed by my power. I amaze myself too. I have no idea how I do it. But I would say 8 times out 10 I can locate the missing item within 5 or 10 minutes. I will focus my power your way, a laser beam, in the hopes it lights up a memory or the very object itself.

TechnoBabe said...

I so hope she finds her passport. Not something to lose. Isn't it the way it is, when we lose something we become frantic and then we are so upset we can't find it.

Postman said...

That kitten's got it in for you all...

Robin said...

Now if it was a fart, she could definitely blame the cat. We blame the dogs for every smell that passed through our collective digestive tracts.

I really hope she finds the passport!

Robert the Skeptic said...

There is one SURE way to find the lost passport - apply to replace it! The minute I replace something I can't find it shows up. It sure works like a charm for when I lose anything.

laura said...

OMG! After some of your past posts I've often thought you have to be my long lost sister, but now I know you are! Your daughter sounds far too much like my Baby Girl (who's also smarter than me) to be a coincidence. After Baby Girl lost her cell phone in a bathroom on spring break I was terrified of what would happen to her (and her passport) while abroad last year. I'm happy to report they both made it back safely (no doubt thanks to my horrific nagging). As for the poor cat in heat; am I the only one who feels sorry for her??

Mary Witzl said...

Bish -- That is a GREAT power to have. Sadly, the one with that power in this family tends to be the very daughter who lost her passport.

We really have exhausted every possibility, and my daughter has done a good job of combing her room. She and my husband are on their way to apply for a new one right now. Maybe that will do the trick. But thanks for your thoughts! Wherever that passport really is (probably festering in some dump, in a plastic bag), it could well have lit up when you were thinking about it.

TechnoBabe -- That's so true. There are times I almost don't care about what I've lost, I'm just so desperate to get closure on finding out where it is.

Postman -- She's a little spitfire, that's for sure. But unless that passport had tunafish on it, I don't think she took it.

Robin -- Really, we ought to get a dog: so useful for passing that particular buck. But our kitten is proving pretty useful in the Noxious Smells Generation department.

The passport is beyond recovery, I fear. Once she's got a new one, however, it could very well surface.

Robert -- Isn't that just the way of things? I don't think I could count the times we've lost some important document, searched high and low, gone to great trouble to replace it, then found the original in some head-bangingly obvious place. Daughter is applying for a new passport as I write this, so we'll soon find it if it's there to be found.

Laura -- You've got kids like this too, huh? It's a sore trial, isn't it? Welcome to the family!

I went through many decades of life as a scatterbrained, absentminded type, always losing or misplacing vital items. Then I had kids AND a full-time job. That changed me. Overnight I went from being someone who couldn't find her keys to the sort of person who can lay her hands on anything in minutes flat. Now my husband poaches from me when he can't find his own keys.

Marcia said...

Oh dear, I hope the passport is found. Don't you hate the time that goes down the drain hunting for stuff? I think (watch me be proved wrong now!) that my "a place for everything and everything in its place" saves me from too much of this, but the resulting problem is that when something is lost, I CANNOT find it because "it couldn't be anywhere if it's not in its place..."

MG Higgins said...

I lost my wedding ring down the toilet! I didn't tell my husband the truth for years until after a couple of beers one afternoon. I must have told the story in a comical way because he laughed. I was always afraid it was a bad omen about our relationship but we're still happily together, so I guess in this case a cigar was just a cigar. I hope your daughter's passport shows up.

Eryl Shields said...

It's so tempting to blame someone who can't defend herself, poor kitten, if it's not bad enough being confined to the house!

We recently had to turn the house upside down for Bob's passport; it was found in a bag in his wardrobe several weeks later.

Helen said...

Heh heh - peeing in your hat - heh heh. That's funny. Sorry.
Now Mary, you know a dog would never do that. They would just flat out eat it, or bury it, or drool all over it......

Martha Flynn said...

Hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee hee

Mary Witzl said...

Marcia -- That's true. You KNOW that you put the thing back, so if you can't find it where it's supposed to be, your other options are gone. But in my case, now that I'm so careful about putting things back, others have learned that they can always find MY keys, mobile phone, etc. I suppose it's a small price to pay for the joy of organization.

MG -- Poor you! I lost mine in a public bath in Japan, but that was my husband's fault: he got me a ring three sizes too big. And on our first trip together, we had all sorts of disasters, but although we learned quite a lot about each other (especially our respective emergency-coping strategies), in our case, cigars are just cigars too.

Eryl -- We have a vast area for her to exercise in, but I still feel for her. We're surrounded by unaltered tom cats who beg her to come down 'just for five minutes'. You can practically smell the pheromones. The sooner we get her fixed, the better.

We'd love to find the passport in a wardrobe, but I doubt that's going to happen.

Helen -- My cousin's Irish setter chewed her entire couch down to nothing and consumed a fair amount of the foam rubber. And you don't want to know what my dog in Japan tried to do to my leg. I think I got off easy with our kitten, but if we didn't have our 'no pets' lease, I swear I'd get a Jack Russell terrier. Those guys are fun. They even look a little like cats.

Martha -- It was my best hat too! Still, I comfort myself with the fact that a hat is easier to wash than a carpet. Cheaper too.

Marian said...

Man, the hassle of replacing a passport! Plus, it won't have the same visas and arrival/departure stamps as the old one. I like to look at mine and remember places I've been.

Hope you find it.

Lily Cate said...

My dad's passport was stolen last year while he was in South Africa.
Replacing it was surprisingly easy. But of course, you lose all the souvenier stamps then.

Angela said...

Oh my! The passport is a biggie for sure. One of my sons likes to lose stuff too. If I bottled up all the time I've spent rooting through couches and behind tables I would have another novel written, I swear!

meredith said...

I throw things away by accident, too.

Mary Witzl said...

Marian -- Believe me, she's VERY bummed out about that. All those cool-looking stamps make a passport so much more than just an official document. We're fresh out of luck, I fear. We've already applied for a new one. 100 euros down the drain...

Lily -- I'm glad to know your father didn't have too much trouble replacing his passport. My biggest worry is that our daughter will lose her passport again. And I know they really frown on multiple losses.

Angela -- That is exactly how I feel. In fact, if I could bottle up all the time I've spent whining about looking for lost items, I could have a short story collection completed.

Meredith -- Not important things, I hope? Sadly, small, vital things are the easiest to discard inadvertently.

Anne Spollen said...

I would have a novel out every six months, but I spend most of my writing time looking for my glasses and then my phone (so I can turn it off)

What you can learn is that phones can be in laundry baskets, glasses have been located in the fruit bowl, and the keys are sometimes actually still in the ignition.

Of COURSE the cat took the passport - isn't she a teenager?

Falak said...

I alwasy find important stuff that I lost when i least required them. Once in school I lost a note book before the exam and had to copy down the entire portion from someone elses book and found the old book the very next day. Maybe your daughter's old passport will turn up now since she has already gone ahead and applied ofr a new one.