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Forgetting, Losing, Misplacing, Replacing--What does it all mean to your family?

Our house is a “working house.” Day and night one hears the lull of the washing machine and boisterous rattle of our dated clothes drier--both laboring diligently along side their close companion--- the hard-working dishwasher. When blended all together, the myriad of cadences, pitches and tones create a familiar hum, an orchestra of sorts that has come to define our home’s personal rhythm. It is the pulse of the passage of time.

Both individually and as a family, we are always on the move. Several times a day, our active lives require us to pack and unpack a plethora of backpacks, first-aid packs, tote-bags, purses, briefcases, activity bags and snack-bags. Inherent in this hectic ebb and flow, objects are constantly being misplaced, lost and if lucky, replaced. This is all par for the course and we cannot allow it to slow us down. Keeping track of everything, all the time, is a full-time job. And since we don’t have the luxury of employing a personal family assistant, we just do the best we can.

As parents, we aim to instill the virtue of responsibility and accountability in our children and generally have each child carry and look after their own belongings-- in addition to their sibling-buddy. But, kids are kids and the notion that they are not going to forget something when caught up in a moment of blissful play is unrealistic. They do lose stuff, and quite often.

Being two classic Type A parents (in remission,) we have adapted to this chaotic environment by first and foremost, purchasing relatively inexpensive things so that in the very possible scenario that something does go AWAL, our bank accounts don’t have to endure a brutal assault, should it need to be replaced. Expensive electronics or coats, for example, are not permitted to leave the vehicle unless one of the parents can fit it painlessly into the “family catch-all bag.”

The point is that yes, we have an established system in place and most of the time is works. But, every now and then it does not and when that happens, time and time again, circumstances force us to re-evaluate our priorities. Living Deepak Chopra’s Law of Detachment literally, we teach the children to quickly “let go” of material possessions when the missing object fails to appear after a thorough search and rescue mission.

Frequently, days after they have overcome their grief and have finally “detached” from their cherished possession, unsuspectingly, it suddenly re-appears. This is one “Law” I have witnessed time and time again and I am convinced that the universe returns “things” back to you only once you have proven not to depend upon it for happiness.

Now, I am not condoning irresponsible behavior in our children, nor am I advocating for not making them accountable. On the contrary, my kids must somehow earn the necessary money to replace a lost item, especially if it belonged to a sibling or was costly. Each case is handled distinctly depending upon the situation. Generally, though, we strive to inculcate in our children a healthy attitude towards material possessions. Through our own actions, we strive to teach our children that if it is not a sibling that has gone missing, the emotionally-healthy way to confront the inevitable, is to simply “move on” and “forget it.”

And sometimes, when they are least expecting it, their disappeared toy suddenly finds its way back into their lives and is appreciated with renewed interest and vigor—and cared for all the better.

**While writing this piece, I painstakingly confess that the pair of designer sunglasses that hubby bought me two weeks ago have been missing in action since Saturday afternoon. I desperately try to be true to my word and “detach”---with hopes that they will make a re-appearance, only once I’ve stopped grieving.

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