Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Curious Case of the Missing Keys

Anybody who has lost keys sometime in life knows what I am talking about. Their significance is immense, be it keys to a car or a house or a cupboard. Keys denote   power, protection and ownership over the possession in question. Losing the keys equals to losing them all.

Before going any further I have a genuine question for you all. If an adult gives her car keys to an 18 month old to pacify her for the time being and the keys are lost when in possession of the child in those 5 minutes and because of which her other child misses out on the art class because mommy has no keys to drive the car with, who can be termed responsible for the disaster? The adult? I thought so....

So here goes the curious case of the missing keys.

It was one of those days when we jump from one activity class to another with a short break in between. Back from gymnastics and en-route art class, we stopped by the house for an hour’s break. If it isn’t obvious from the question earlier, let me clarify that it is not me who does gymnastics or art. Neither do I have the bodily flexibility to engage in gymnastics nor  the faintest skill required to indulge in arts, I am in fact lazy and cannot draw anything at all, not even a straight circle.

My older daughter is the one who takes gymnastic lessons and art classes. By the time you read this though, art classes would have become a thing of the past. After 10 lessons and 100 dollars, both, me and her had to accept the harsh realities of life. Some things you just inherit, like them or not. My daughter, just like me; cannot draw. After sitting through hours of art lessons and observing almost hopefully from outside the window, I concluded that the other students had a better chance of learning some art if my daughter wasn’t busy distracting them after scribbling a few lines here and there on her own paper.

But that day, we were still doing art, right after gymnastics, with an hour in between.  A lot can be accomplished in an hour IF you do not have a clinging toddler on you every single waking moment. And I had not set out to accomplish that “lot”. All I wanted was a cup of tea before I left for another hour of toddling up and down the stairs, left and right in the hallway with the younger one, trying my best to keep the decibel levels of “NO” in control while her sister busied herself and others in the art class.

The tea got ready somehow admist the chaos going around and there it was in a cup awaiting me. Yet the actual act of sipping it deluded me. “Mamma, Mamma"…soft cries, clinging hands and endless following around, she was determined to climb in my lap and sit there doing nothing thereby making me also do nothing. The hot tea was soon going to be lukewarm if a distraction was not made available immediately.  Just when I was about to give up a magical jingle came to the rescue. The car keys slipped out of my pocket and landed at her tiny feet. Thrilled, she picked them up and started playing. I was on the verge of taking them back (fully prepared to face a tantrum and more fierce clinging) when an inner voice said “ grab this opportunity”. Choosing between a steaming cup of tea and a potential outburst, I chose peace of mind. It must have taken me about 5 minutes to finish the tea and start gathering things to step out of the house again. And it was precisely then that the disaster was uncovered.  It seemed we had everything but the car keys needed to get to where we needed to be.

At first I searched randomly thinking she had just dropped them there somewhere. Half an hour of searching with no results changed my strategy slightly. Now I was thinking, she must have hidden it somewhere (oh yes, barely 18 months and already capable of hiding things). One whole hour gone by just looking for keys, by then the art class was long forgotten. I was panicking and cursing myself for allowing those 5 minutes of uninterrupted leisure.

That night the lights in the house were up till mid-night. From going through the trash thrice (wearing gloves) to rummaging under bed sheets, creeping behind couches and clattering through toy bins; there wasn’t a spot in the house we didn’t cover (or so we thought) in quest of those damn keys.

As for the person literally responsible (technically it would be me) for the disaster, she found the search pretty entertaining. The whole high voltage activity in the house got her excited and she ran from one room to another as if it was some game we were playing. And when we asked her from time to time where she had kept the keys, her answers alternated between “here” to “there” to “mamma” to “Oh Oh”. Not very encouraging, but well, we tried.

The gloom stayed on me for a couple of days after the incident. Especially after I called a dealer and found out how much it was going to cost to replace the keys. The weekend after that day was again employed in search of the missing keys. We came up with a couple of lost things already written off like an old photograph, a hair clip and a plastic necklace, but not the keys. They had vanished without a trace.

Using the principle of elimination, hubby checked off each room of the house from the list of possibilities where the keys could be and zeroed in on the bathroom. “She has flushed them down the toilet” he announced giving up on the search.

Four months passed and reluctantly we got another set of keys made. Two days after the new keys took over, a strange thing happened. The clingy toddler who was getting naughtier by the day discovered that throwing magnetic “A B C D’s” around in the kitchen was much more fun than sticking them on the refrigerator.  I was cooking and the letters were getting in the way so I picked them up and put them where they belonged. Some however had been pushed way further in below the gas and oven range so I called for help.

And guess what we found along with an ‘X” and a “C’? Yes, the missing keys!


  1. Hahaha...sorry for laughing out at your predicament - but these kids - are so naughty I say :)

  2. Really loved reading through it. I can actually hear Neiva saying "No...no...no" all the time. ("trying my best to keep the decibel levels of “NO” in control while her sister busied herself and others in the art class."...)
    Me and Prachi sometimes burst into "No"..."No"..."No" together just for fun :)

  3. Kshitij am glad you guys remember the kids..hopefully we' ll all be meeting up soon.

  4. I recently lost my wallet with all the credit cards & most importantly my DL... few gift cards which I should have used as soon as I got them :(( I could relate your search with mine ...after the whole search operation which lasted for almost a week, my house is shining !!!

  5. gauri- so the case was solved albeit 4 months later, but all your trials & tribulations seems like it's unfolded before my eyes. Me a Been there, done that parent, can only say--aah sigh. But what was even more amusing was your explanation for the arts/gymnastic classes; not being able to draw a (straight? !) circle is just ME hee hee

  6. So so frustrating na! I had gone for a function and my nephew's little daughter grabbed one of my gold earrings, and we had a merry dance trying to find it.It seemed to vanish in the blink of an eye. I did manage to retrieve it, but those were some bad moments. I feel your pain.