My eleven year old son forgets everything. His short-term memory ranges somewhere between “not great” and “abysmal.” This is mainly a symptom of his ADHD, the attention-deficit portion. The kid has returned home wearing just one shoe. No joke. One shoe. When asked where the other shoe was, he had no idea. Not one clue. He wasn’t even sure if he had left the house wearing two shoes. This makes life around our house very interesting. It’s a perpetual treasure hunt without the benefit of a map.
A couple years ago, Joe wore braces on his very wonky front teeth. When the braces finally came off his newly straightened teeth, they handed us a retainer for him to wear every night while he slept. I laughed out loud. Were they kidding me? The idea that he would remember to put the retainer in his mouth every night and then remember to take it out in the morning and store it in a small plastic case was optimistic bordering on insane. Still, we took the small piece of plastic and its silver case and left the orthodontist’s office. I shook my head all the way home.
Due to the ever-evolving state of Joe’s teeth, Joe’s retainer has had to evolve too. So, for the past two years, we have watched them whittle down his original, full upper-palate retainer until it fits just Joe’s four upper front teeth. This retainer, in addition to being completely clear and nearly invisible to begin with, is now microscopic. Consequently, we are in a continual game of hide-and-seek with it. We’ve had some fun, scavenger hunt nights in our house as we rooted around trying to find Joe’s retainer with our only clue to its whereabouts residing in Joe’s sketchy short-term memory. I’ve found his retainer on the floor under the boys’ bunk bed, on our bathroom counter, on a coffee table tray in the family room, in the couch cushions, on the dining room table, on the kitchen counter under a loaf of bread, and in a cup holder in my car. How we have managed to keep it around this long is nothing short of a Jesus-in-the-grilled-cheese-sandwich miracle.
Tonight, as bed time approached, we went through the familiar routine. We told him to brush his teeth and put his retainer in. When he bellowed downstairs that he didn’t know where it was, we told him to find it. He looked around upstairs and then came down to the main floor to rifle around. Wanting to get him to sleep sooner, we paused Breaking Bad on the DVR and joined the search party. We checked all the places we’ve previously found it. No retainer. Had he finally lost it for good? I asked him to go look upstairs one more time, and we went back to watching our show. A few minutes later, he yelled down again. We missed what he’d said.
“Did you find it?” I shouted upstairs.
“Yeah. Got it,” he replied.
“Where was it?” I shouted, always cataloging places it has traveled. Who knows? I might find it there again someday.
“It was in my mouth the whole day,” he said.
Hubby and I looked at each other. Oddly enough, we weren’t that shocked. That would, in Joe’s case, make as much sense as anything else. A few seconds later, he shouted down to us again.
“It wasn’t in my mouth. Just kidding. But, I did find it and it’s in my mouth now,” he told us, and he went back to playing video games.
Steve and I had a good laugh. It was the first time Joe had ever fooled us. He’d delivered that fallacious statement, so perfectly well-timed and with just the right amount of inflection, and we were none the wiser. Turns out the kid has a pretty dry sense of humor, sneaky and under-the-radar like a Jedi. Even as our son continues to lose everything else, we’re happy to see he’s finding his own sense of humor about it.