It's 7:30 am when I hear two little feet hit the floor upstairs and pitter-patter down the staircase. I take a deep breath and quickly gulp down the rest of my coffee. Once I hear those little feet, there is no longer time to sip.
Before he even hits the last step, James is calling to me. Even though I love those little feet, and that little voice, this first interaction of the morning is often difficult for me. Not because it means the end of my quiet coffee-sipping morning time, though. It's difficult because, nine times out of ten, the first words from James' mouth are, "MOMMYYYYY! I WANT SOME MILK!"
No, there is nothing inherently wrong with my son wanting milk as soon as he wakes up. There are worse things he could ask for (which he sometimes does, also...cookies or crackers or whatever other weird non-breakfast food he can think of). The problem with this request as he jumps to the floor, skipping the last step completely is this: there is only ONE CUP that will do for that milk. And this one cup is, on most days, nowhere to be found. Thus begins the search.
James was fairly young when I stopped giving him a sippy cup, and he really did quite well using a regular cup. I knew it was better to stop letting him use a sippy cup as soon as possible, and since there was just him around, there wasn't as many opportunities for his cup to be spilled. It wasn't until I had my second child and started babysitting that he became attached to this one certain sippy cup. I started giving all the kids their own cup, all with lids, because after the first day of giving them cups without lids I wanted to throw my mop out of a window. I think James took my speech about "This is your cup, please don't drink out of anyone elses' cup" a little too literally. For the past year and a half, now, I have trouble getting him to drink if the "Thomas Cup" cannot be found. Unfortunately, for as attached as he is to it, he very often loses the "Thomas Cup," haphazardly setting it aside after he empties it. Attempts at instigating a "put-your-cup-in-the-sink" rule work sometimes, and we continue to reiterate it. But when there's playing to be done, who has time to run all the way to the sink to throw in their cup?!
The search starts out with a simple request. Chocolate milk. IN MY THOMAS CUP. Please.
I check the sink. No Thomas Cup. I sigh.
The search usually begins in the living room. I ask James if he remembers where he saw it last. "In the sink!" he swears, apparently remembering the rule NOW that the cup is missing. I shrug.
There are places I know to look. By the couch. On the piano. Near the TV stand. Even though he loses his cup often, he seems to "lose" it in the same spots--as if in his little mind, these are OK places to leave it. Some are not so typical. Inside a backpack. In the garden. Behind the couch, buried under three blankets. Still, these are places I know to search. We do this way too often.
Today, I wander the house three times. I've checked all the usual spots, and I try to go over my mental list one more time. When was the last cup of chocolate milk issued yesterday? Was it BEFORE or AFTER I closed the front door for the night? Should I check outside the fence? I'm certain he had milk after the door was closed...but it doesn't seem to be in any of the "inside" hiding places. I'm starting to panic, imagining the Thomas Cup being lost for a week, and finding it later with disgusting, week-old chocolate milk still in it. Plus, James is still asking me for a drink every two minutes.
As I search, I marvel at all the hiding places this house has. It doesn't seem that big until we lose something. I stop searching, telling James he can have his milk in another cup. I sit down and try to think about something else. But now I'm just as obsessed with finding the cup as James is about using it. I decide to look one more time.
I've made my circuit around the house, my eyes panning slowly over every room, searching for that familiar blue hunk of plastic. As I enter the final room on my list, I'm nearly pulling my hair out, loudly announcing that there's NO WAY I missed it this time, it must be in this room...and I still don't find it. My heart sinks. But then I have a thought--I looked in all the normal spots, but I didn't look any further. Sure enough, three steps further in to the room, hidden behind Daddy's chair in the office, I spot it. I was looking hard enough, but I wasn't looking in the right spots.
It's easy to get caught up in your daily routine, and to stretch your mind only far enough to include what you already know. Most of us are tired and stressed enough that the energy to think outside of the box isn't always readily available. Fortunately, our children still have plenty of energy to spare. I started out my morning obsessively searching for a cheap plastic sippy cup, but in the midst of my struggle, I learned a lesson from my son.
The search never ends, and the answers can't always be found in the usual spots.
Maybe he loses his cup on purpose, to keep Mom's brain from falling in to a rut?