The case of the missing mittens

On the ninth day of Christmas, my true loves gave to me nine yummy cookies, eight hours’ cleaning, seven minutes’ crying, six undone advents, a five seater Volvo SUV…..four Diego drawings, three tasty treats, two U.S. passports and a mushy brain with no memory

The Gort has a bright yellow jacket. Which allows me to spot him from far away. Yesterday, as I approached the Kindergarten pick up line, I could see my oldest hanging by the rail. Grey and white fleece hat on his head. Yellow jacket. And pale white – gloveless – hands – equally visible from far away.

Why wasn’t the kid wearing his mittens? More specifically, why was the kid grabbing fistfuls of snow with his bare hands?

Annoyed, I approached him. ‘Hey…..where are your mittens?’

‘I lost them,’ he reported. ‘What do you mean you lost them? ‘They were by my boots and then I couldn’t find them,’ he explained.

‘I’m freezing,’ he wailed, holding his hands aloft as the last bits of snow had turned to finger-numbing slush. ‘That’s why you shouldn’t pick up snow if you’re not wearing mittens,’ I reasoned.

Big deal, the kid lost a pair of mittens, some other people might say – people who don’t have tendencies towards obsessive compulsive disorder about keeping pieces and sets of things together.

It wasn’t that he had lost a pair of mittens. It was that he’d lost the mittens that go with his hat. That’s why it bothered me.

It’s the same obsessiveness that drives me to dig through piles of leaves and household to find the head of a penguin matriushka. It actually happened again on Sunday. The boys had played with the matriushka and the penguin had once again been rendered headless. Two days later I’d given up hope that head and body would be reunited. When, during my advent cleaning frenzy, I found the little penguin head sandwiched between two file boxes.

‘Could this day get any better?!’ I announced cheerfully. As if something really great had happened. ‘Let me guess….you found the penguin head,’ the professor replied. He’s gotten used to my ‘eccentricities’.

When we got home from school, I checked the pockets of the Gort’s coat. Just ‘in case’. And the insides of his boots. No mittens there. ‘Luckily’ we had to go back to school after dinner, for a card-making event. Which meant I could continue my search for the missing pieces of fleece. As fate would have it, the janitor was in the hallway when we arrived at the school.

‘Do you have a lost and found?’ I asked him. ‘We lost a pair of mittens,’ I explained. Even though we didn’t. ‘We sure do,’ he replied as he unlocked the door leading to the hallway which houses the enormous lost and found area.

I rifled through the first bin. It contained a mound of sweaters and scarves and who knows what else. But no white and grey fleece mittens. I skimmed the standing coat-rack, which was dedicated to missing jackets. I glanced at the big tub full of lunchboxes. And lonely mittens hanging on hooks. All just waiting to be reclaimed, by their apparently un-OCD owners.

We stopped outside his classroom, where the coat hooks and inside shoes reside. No mittens there, either. My only recourse – save ‘giving up’ – was to write a note to the teacher and see if the mittens had made their way to the classroom.

Defeated, we sauntered back to the gym where we made our cards. And then we drove home in the snow.
When we got home, he went to bed and I tidied up. On a whim, I grabbed his backpack, just to see…..

Sure enough, there they were: two ‘lost’ mittens.
And then I was mad.

13 thoughts on “The case of the missing mittens

  1. O man, can I relate! You should have seen the frenzy that went on recently looking for the 5 shapes for “Oliver’s” (i.e. “my”) favorite shape sorter! Couldn’t find that blasted cirlce for anything! Found it a week later, took a picture of the complete set and sent it to Jeff. Much relief washed over the Smith home!

    There’s a chance I haven’t gotten out some of Avery’s old toys because I don’t want to lose any of the pieces. It’s a sickness.

    1. Steph – I had no idea we shared this, umh, specialness. That special ‘joy’ you feel, when you realize all the pieces are still there…..priceless.

  2. I hesitate to suggest this, for fear that I really have become my mother: but my mom used to sew a piece of yarn to each mitten, long enough to thread through the back of our coats so the mittens stayed attached to each other and in our coats.

      1. Overheard in the school yard….”who’s the dork with the giant string tied to his coat, let’s beat that guy up and tie him to the tether ball pole with his mittens…”

  3. I totally relate. Toy sets are particularly maddening. There was this Weeble Goldilocks set, and our son loved carrying the parts along everywhere. Well, some of the parts.

    I found myself constantly posting all points bulletins in search of Momma Bear’s bed, the table with porridge bowls, and Baby Bear’s chair. For about a month, I was convinced that Poppa Bear had run off with Goldilocks. I found them both under a seat in my car before the tabloids caught wind of the story.

    Oh, and there was this day:

    If you find a 12 step program that works, call me.

  4. Wow…I feel like I found my “tribe”. I have similar toy-hunting tendencies…oh and a friend of mine said it’s not OCD, it’s CDO – it should be alphabetical, after all. 😉

  5. Just a Canadian comment about the mittens tied together. As functional as they are (and I admit to my kids having a pair) we call them idiot mittens here. Due to the fact that you can pull on one end a certain way and the kid hits himself in the face.

  6. Um, let’s remember that your amazing wife has already shared pics of your eldest’s wardrobe selections on this very blog. You’re worried about *mittens* leading to teasing from other kids when he’s wearing fishing waders? 🙂

    1. Seriously – it will be the Ball State Family Picnic shirt that gets him in trouble. Not the idiot mittens. Nice phrase Kim!


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