Published for KSL.con (click HERE for the link)
I watched my dad open the box on his dresser, looking for the fingernail
clippers I had asked to borrow. He had hesitated — much longer than
such a simple request warranted — and had agreed only under the
condition that the clippers never leave his sight.
This strange behavior should have induced me to hightail it out of the
room, but instead, I stayed to observe my dad’s temporary undoing.
Discovering that the clippers were not in the box, Dad began to twitch,
rant, fume, gesture and utter strange noises.
Dad had officially fallen off his rocker.
Over a pair of nail clippers? Ridiculous. I was 12, and I promised my
future children right then and there that I would never fly off the
handle over such trivialities.
In hindsight, that particular promise may have been a bit rash.
It began subtly, the disappearance of stuff. Scissors. Tape. Pens and
pencils. At first, I attributed it to the onset of senility. But when
the misplaced items were recovered in places such as kids’ bedrooms, my
suspicions shifted and I forced myself to face the truth that my kids
were less than perfect.
So I took action.
Lovingly, I explained to the kids why items needed to be returned to
their rightful places after use. The next week, an entire box of markers
Sternly, I laid out the consequences should particular things not be
found in their proper places. Soon afterwards, my daughter came in the
house wielding a spoon and knife she had found partially buried under a
tree in the backyard.
Menacingly, I attached larger penalties to specific infractions. A few
weeks later, upon opening the hatch of my Suburban in the Target parking
lot, I found one of our cordless phones on the rear bumper. How it
hadn’t fallen off in transit I’ll never know.
Regrettably, “leaving phones on car bumpers” hadn’t been on the list of infractions.
I started to put items in impossible-to-access places. Kids accessed
them. I hid things, only to have them found by resourceful search
I refused to replace the Scotch tape. We actually went without it until
I decided I was a little embarrassed to send kids to birthday parties
toting gifts accessorized with packing tape. It was a pride thing.
I even offered duplicates. My teenage daughter received both a hair
dryer and flat iron for Christmas, leaving me puzzled when mine went
missing again so quickly. Turns out I hadn’t figured quality into the
equation. If the replacements aren’t of equal or greater value to the
original items, they are of no practical use to the recipients.
My patience finally disappeared along with my makeup. Seconds before reaching the end of my rope, I had an idea.
I decided that my daughter needed the gift of make-up for her birthday.
Not just any make-up, but make-up that was better than mine. As luck
would have it, this wouldn’t be hard on the budget since I spend next to
nothing on cosmetics.
I congratulated myself for such a genius idea and watched my daughter
transform in front of the bathroom mirror, testing various makeup shades
and application techniques.
A week later, my favorite eye shadow was not in its drawer. Or any other drawer. Or purse. Or anywhere else I looked.
Twitching, I stepped into the hallway, walking in a trance towards my
oldest daughter’s room. I began to rant, fume, gesture and even utter
I had officially come undone.
Even in this altered state, I remained lucid enough to notice my
children’s wide eyes peeking out from their bedroom doors. I was
suddenly 12 years old again, watching my own dad’s unhinging. Feeling
utterly sheepish, I had two startling realizations.
One, I finally understood my dad’s nail clipper episode.
Two, I knew exactly what my children were thinking.