It doesn’t help that I have an irritating anthropomorphic attitude toward inanimate objects, worried that they will “be sad” to be abandoned and alone in the world
“Where’s your blanket?!” I demanded of my three-year-old.
He looked vaguely about his seat in the double stroller, and shrugged sheepishly.
“No, no, no, no, no…” I groaned. I wearily swung the carriage about, shelving our visit to the park.
This blanket wasn’t just any blanket. It was a personalized gift from a family friend, soft and warm and perfect for outdoor excursions. I should have known better when I’d earnestly tucked it around him, that it wasn’t that cold and he wouldn’t be that concerned for its welfare.
I spend many of my Sundays thus, dragging the babies about in the fresh air and taking care of errands. I had already returned books to the library and stopped at the supermarket. Now I frantically retraced my steps, desperate to locate the vanished blankie.
I reentered the grocery store, but the woman at the service counter was engaged in conversation, and I didn’t want to interrupt. Besides, I figured, it was too soon for anyone to have handed it in. I peered into the aisles for a familiar flash of red and navy, before shoving the stroller out the exit and nervously scouring the sidewalks, all the way back to the library, to no avail.
I sighed, rolled to a stop, and fed the two their snacks while anxiety raged internally. It doesn’t help that I have an irritating anthropomorphic attitude toward inanimate objects, worried that they will “be sad” to be abandoned and alone in the world. Plus, I really, really, liked that blanket.
Already quite tired, I headed back to the supermarket for the third time and approached customer service.
“Hi,” I said uncertainly. “Um, I think I lost something this morning? A blankie?”
“Oh, sure!” she said, and produced it immediately. I nearly wept from relief.
Despite the fact that I’d wasted a fine chunk of time and energy on this seek-and-find mission, I made good on my intention to visit the park.
In his stroller, my son was delightedly waving about his new mittens. The previous sets we’d tried were too thick, and he’d sit awkwardly with his gloved hands held aloft, unable to flex his fingers. After some dedicated Amazon scouring, I’d found a thin, knit set that, while not very warm, allowed him to move his hands comfortably.
We arrived at the park and he ran off to push the button on the water fountain. He boomeranged back a few minutes later, upset that his new mittens were now wet. I resignedly removed them and chucked them into the stroller basket, regretful that his little paws would now be chilled.
Soon enough, I reached my limit for the day, and we trundled home. Later that night, I unloaded the groceries from the basket, only to find one mitten.
Oh, come on! To lose something twice in one day? I can’t stand the fallout from lost possessions, so I typically track my things rather carefully. But yes, lightning can strike twice.
It bothered me, that lost mitten. Even though it came in a three-pack set, even though it was only a few dollars, even though I expected my son to lose them — it was brand new! It’s also a great burden, to have only one of a mitten pair. The matchless half would live an extended life in the drawer, and my son would probably turn 30 before I would finally throw it away. I decided to retrace my steps yet again, the next day.
About midnight, the baby woke me for a feeding, and I was blearily peering at the phone screen in an attempt to stay awake. I scrolled through a local group chat, my eyes widening when I spotted it: “Found personalized children’s blanket in supermarket parking lot. Gave it to customer service.” I quickly typed her my thanks, so appreciative that she’d saved it before it had been run over by a muddy tire.
The next day, I was still determined to track down the lost mitten. My husband was dubious. “Don’t they clean the streets or something? It was probably thrown out.” But I wanted to at least try. Calculating that I had an hour before my older son came home, I quickly chucked the baby into the stroller and bolted, my eyes peeled once again.
I searched the streets all the way back to the park, where there it was, atop a green picnic table, patiently waiting for me. Seeing that mitten, carefully placed where it could be found, made me smile.
In one day, I’d carelessly lost two separate items in two separate locations. But people, people I don’t know, had my back. It’s an effort to bend down, to pick up, to place an ownerless object in a safe spot for it to be reclaimed. And it made me so ridiculously happy to find both the blankie, sentimentally unique, and the mitten, new and easily replaced.
As I pivoted the stroller around, trotting to make it home for the bus, I felt warm inside. Not only for finding what I’d lost, but knowing that people will help, whether we know them or not.
A few weeks later, I was in the park again, and spied a child’s lavender glove beneath the seesaw my son was bouncing on. I bent down and picked it up, shook off any clinging wood chips, and gently placed it on a low brick wall, so it could be found.
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 843)
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