One of Mr. C’s favorite toys is a small Lego shark. It came as an accessory of their Coast Guard helicopter set. It’s less than two inches long, white, with a mouth that can open and be made to bite Dada’s finger if he holds it out when instructed by Mr. C. He sometimes puts it in his pocket and will sometimes show it to people he meets. ‘I have a shark!’ Not very often, maybe twice a month or so. I usually don’t even know when he has it.
Yesterday C, Ms. J, and I all took a trip to a local playground. It’s not the closest playground to us, but it’s the largest in the area, about a fifteen minute drive away. Since it was a sunny and warm day, it was packed with kids. While he was running around, I saw him take the little shark out of his pocket and show it to a little girl. He’s on his way to being quite the flirt, he’ll start off with something like ‘Wow, you’re shoes are sparkly!’, and then move on to ‘I have a pet shark!’, and then ‘Let’s play tag!’.
‘Oh, he has the shark with him’ I thought. I try to monitor when he has it since I’m sure he would be very upset if he ever lost it. ‘I’ll have to make sure he holds onto that!’ Since he was running around so much, I didn’t get a chance to see if he had put it back in his pocket though.
Ms J and I ended up being recruited to play ‘trolls’ so we ran around chasing a bunch of the kids around the slides and swings. After an hour or so of running around with a number of kids, C was looking exhausted, so we made our way out to run a few errands. I may have been more exhausted than he was though. That was quite a bit more running around than I had expected to do. We then went to the supermarket, and a craft store to pick up some supplies for a project C wanted to work on. Then it was back home.
On the way home, C asked from the backseat. ‘So, where is ‘Sharkie’, Dada?’
‘ I thought you had him.’
‘We’ll look for him under the car seat when we get home’ Ms. J said. ‘Maybe you just dropped him in the car when you got in.’
I look in the rearview mirror, and see his expression change to one of utter sadness. His shoulders slump, he lets out a huge sigh and is quiet for the rest of the trip.
When we get home, we search the car. Under the seat. Under his car seat. Under the front seat. Even looking in the trunk in the mistaken belief that we had opened the trunk at some point when we were leaving the playground.
I remember losing favorite toys like that when I was a kid, and how upsetting it was. Where was I last?, where did I put it?, maybe I left it at a friend’s house?
One memorable incident was a lost Matchbox car I had been playing with in my backyard when I was about seven. Days later I remembered where it might be. Down a drainpipe next to the basement. I told my Dad where I thought it might be and he went out to the pipe with a small magnet tied to a string and fished the car out of the drain. There were plenty of other times though when my Dad would just say ‘Oh well, you just have to watch where you put your toys’, in his best ‘Let this be a lesson for you’ tone.
We go inside the house and check C’s pockets. Front and back pockets of his pants. Nope, no sharkie. Mr. C slumps down onto the sofa. ‘Oh well, Sharkie is gone, I guess’.
J and I review our steps. Did C have it when we were in the supermarket, or in the craft store. No, we didn’t see him with it when we were in either store, it must be in the playground.
So, should I go with the ‘Let this be a lesson for you’ solution or should I be inspired by my Dad’s search with the string and magnet. I decide to go with the string and magnet solution and drive back to the playground to begin the most likely futile search for the 2 inch long sharkie.
I search and search the playground. Under slides, under swings, under trees, in the grass, in the woodchips, outside the gate, in the parking lot. No sharkie. Sharkie is gone. I think I looked for it about a half hour in the playground and another fifteen minutes or so in the parking lot.
By now I have been away for more than hour. When I arrive back home, C is making a ‘Missing’ poster that we’ll put up at the playground tomorrow.
Here it is. There’s a picture of the shark, with small tabs that we would write our phone number on for people to call with information.
Ms. J can see from my expression that I have not had any luck with the search. C is still sad, but he’s more interested in making the poster than he is in being upset. Ms. J has a new idea that should help in the search, maybe C can trace his steps and remember where he dropped it.
‘Hey, where did you put Sharkie after you showed it to that little girl’ Ms. J asks.
‘I gave it to Dada to hold onto so I wouldn’t loose it, and he put it in his pocket’
I checked my pockets… and there it was.