“I’ve looked and looked and looked. Where could it be?”

It’s been three mornings of the same thing—he climbs out of bed late and almost misses breakfast, because there are LEGO pieces all over the floor and he can’t walk past them without building a miniature version of San Antonio’s Alamo. He’ll turn on an audio book, stretch out on the floor, and listen and build.

The problem is that there’s a deadline on mornings. This isn’t the case when school’s out, but it’s only the one-hundredth day of school, and so we still have another two hundred or so to go—which would make one think, if one were as gullible as I am—that maybe we would have gotten the hang of this by now.


So there he is, playing with LEGO figures when there’s still a backpack to be packed, a lunch to be put together, shoes to be located. And the best part about it is he’s not very good at looking.

Yesterday morning he couldn’t find his shoes that were sitting under his desk, where he slipped them off while he was writing a thesis the other day (not really a thesis. But this particular boy will be well practiced at writing theses by the time he gets to college). He says one of his brothers probably shoved them under his desk as a joke, because he specifically remembers putting them where shoes go (“Where do shoes go?” I said. He just looked at me blankly, so, yeah, I think he’s telling the truth.).

Yesterday afternoon he couldn’t find the digital camera he got for Christmas to use in his filmmaking endeavors, and he ranted all over the house about how someone had taken it or stolen it or misplaced it (but that person was most definitely not him), and then when we found it on the table beside the couch, he, of course, had not put it there.

Last night he couldn’t find the soap container that was sitting on the edge of the bath tub, where it always is.

Today he can’t find his jacket. It’s right in the middle of the floor.

Once a week he can’t find a library book that someone—one of his brothers, probably—surely must have hidden on purpose. He can’t find this one specific LEGO piece, because they’ve all exploded on the floor and one looks so like another, but, actually, someone probably lost it (not him). He can’t find the CD player that’s still spinning because no one ever wants to press stop, only pause (“Can’t you hear the clicking, son?” “What clicking?”), which is hidden beneath the clothes he stripped off yesterday and left on the floor, because that’s where they belong. He can’t find his favorite Star Wars shirt because putting his clothes away after laundry day means stuffing them all into his drawers, instead of hanging them in his closet (one of these days, when he actually cares about the way he looks, he’ll realize that the “homeless” look isn’t all that compelling in the eyes of a young lady).

And it’s not just him. The rest of them got this not-great-at-looking gene, too.

“Where’s my scarf?” the 4-year-old says.

“It’s hanging around your neck,” I say.

“Where’s my backpack?” the 5-year-old says.

“It’s on the chair right behind you, where you laid it,” I say.

“Where’s Daddy?” one of the 2-year-olds says.

“You’re looking right at him,” I say. “How is it that you can’t see him?”

Kids just aren’t all that great at looking.

Husband would say they get this from me. “Have you seen my water?” I’ll say, and he’ll point to the banister in front of me, the most unlikely of places, which suddenly reminds me that I put it there a few minutes ago.

“Do you have the other keys?” he’ll say when we’re walking out the door. I’ll check my purse. “No,” I’ll say. He’ll look at me. And then he’ll pull my purse away from me, because clearly I’m incompetent at looking, and I’ll roll my eyes and mutter under my breath, “You’re not going to find anything. I’d be able to hear them,” and then out he’ll pull them. I have no idea how they got there.

“I can’t find his red folder,” I’ll say about the one boy missing a school folder.

“Did you look?” Husband will say, his voice muffled against the pillow because it’s still 6 a.m. and he likes getting up early.

“Yes,” I’ll say. “And he needs it today. There are important papers that need to go back to school.”

Husband will rouse himself from the bed and rifle through the billions of papers on our counter and miraculously find it at the bottom of the stack, where I swear it must have reappeared in the time between walking upstairs and now.

My Pride and Prejudice bag? I’ll say.

Probably in the closet, where it should be, Husband will say.

The sour cream? I’ll say.

Right in front of your face, he’ll say, grabbing it from the shelf that’s not actually right in front of my face but is more level with my forehead and above my line of sight.

My running shoes?

Downstairs in the basket, where they’re supposed to be.

Every now and then Husband will lose his wallet, and I’ll do a quick glance around the room, not see it anywhere, and already be on the phone with the credit card companies to cancel the two we carry, and he’ll walk back in the room with the wallet he found on the windowsill behind our blinds, where I wouldn’t even think to look (and why would I? What’s it doing there?).

I’m not entirely sure where this aversion to looking comes from. I blame it on the kids. I think I’m so overwhelmed with looking for things all the time that I just suffer from a condition called Looking Burnout, so when there’s something right in front of my face I don’t actually see it. One of the many hazards of having kids.

But something needs to be done about these kids and their sadly lagging looking skills. I’m not a find-this-for-me service. I’m not even a find-this-for-myself service, as you can see from the stories I’ve shared. So, eventually, someone is going to have to teach my kids how to properly look for something, and it’s most likely not going to be me. Which means it will probably fall to Husband.

Hey, you know what? We all have our own strengths. That’s part of what makes community important.

Now where did I put my computer?

This is an excerpt from This Life With Boys, the third book in the Crash Test Parents series. To get access to some all-new, never-before-published humor essays in two hilarious Crash Test Parents guides, visit the Crash Test Parents Reader Library page.

(Photo by Teddy Kelley on Unsplash)