We lost it tonight - big time. Well, I did - and she was right behind me, as per usual.
They weren't in my bag- the damn car keys- they were totally missing. Absolutely not anywhere. It isn't even our car, it's a courtesy car from a rather uncourteous garage. By 'we' obviously I mean X and me. We do everything together. If I attempt to even go into the next room she shrieks and runs to tug at my jumper, "don't leave me in the dark, mummy!' Of course it's not dark- well, only outside the windows. Do all children shadow their parents so closely or it because it's just the two of us here? When I turn around it's hard not to trip over her and my jumper is now even baggier than when I bought it at the second hand shop, though the rate my middle age spread is spreading the saggy bits will soon fill out the baggy bits so, of all the incredibly long list of grey worries that fill my grey matter (so grey I'm surprised my hair still grows out of my grey head mousy and not grey) the saggy baggy bits are really quite low down the long, grey list.
When I realised the car keys weren't in my bag and they were pretty definitely lost I had to run to the loo: the contents of my tummy turned to water immediately I thought of all that would need to be done if I couldn't find them. Pathetic I know, but there it is. I am useless at juggling and organising, always have been, I reckon I might be quite heroic if war were declared, that would be a reasonably simple problem- just find some bunker in which to hide- but a missing car key, that creates a whole list of things to reconfigure that reduces my brain to grey mush and all the nerve endings start to twitch. The first thing, I realised, was to call the garage, but they'd gone home. It would have to be first thing in the morning. I needed to get them to send over new keys by bike very quickly or the car would be towed away as soon as the six hour voucher (which we had been putting in the car when we lost the keys) ran out. This was not going to be an easy conversation, given the fact that last time I'd spoken to them I'd terminated the conversation rather abruptly due to their blunt refusal to even hazard a guess when their work on my car might be done.
Not getting new keys and not replacing the voucher was absolutely not an option. I've got two sixty pound fines recently for parking outside my house, even though I've already paid for residents parking, due to silly mistakes with the silly rules. "Silly mummy," says X. I've started to have subliminal flashes where I see the car snowed under with parking tickets in a car pound.
We carefully went through every place that the keys might be; two hours of searching which included undoing about twenty jiffy bags and unwrapping every single Christmas present I'd just spent hours wrapping up, and then doing the whole lot up again. After that I got on gmail and cancelled and reorganised all my appointments for tomorrow so that I could be at home to receive the keys and put a new voucher in the car. One of the appointments is a serious beaurocratic one where I will be penalised for non-attendance. Another of the appointments had taken me about six months to secure. I rewrote the email to cancel three times trying to work out which excuse seemed the least flakey, given how hard I'd pushed for the meeting. Then I contacted both minders involved in the after school care to reorganise X's routine to match mine. After that we went outside and rootled about in the leaves and gutter and then we went through the dustbin and then, I turned around and stepped on X, who was shadowing me. She howled and refused to believe that I hadn't hurt her on purpose and ran back into the kitchen.
At this moment a friend called for a nice little chat.
"We've lost the damn car keys!" I shriek over X's wails.
"Retrace your footsteps, what were you doing?" They shout back.
"Well, we were wrapping christmas presents while cooking supper, and then I tried to pay a parking fine on the phone, while X was telling me about her day and then we realised the car needed the voucher so we went outside and then X wanted to lock the car herself and I was just saying how well she was doing it when the neighbour said hallo and then..."
"Well, if you must let X do things like lock the car you've only got yourself to blame, really, haven't you? When will you learn that keys and phones and cameras are not suitable for a three year old?"
"She's nearly four and anyway we do eveything together," I protest, turning around and nearly stepping on X which made me fall against the back door and spike my hand on.............. the car keys, the damn car keys! They were sticking out of the back door lock. X must have carried them back into the house after we talked to the neighbour and she must have carried on playing locking things while I rescued the burning sausages.
'Found the damn things," I say.
"See, no need for all the drama, eh?" says the friend, smugly.
We go to bed, me and X and my mobile and laptop. I start to change all the appointments around again. It's the minders that are the most embarrassing to deal with as, they get it these kind of mix ups from me the most often. No one other mum seems to have to reorganise her life so frequently and the other day I actually turned up to collect X at the wrong minders. Forget lost car keys, it's lost marbles that they think is the problem, I'm sure. Anyone would think I had several children to organise, not just one.
"You hurt me, mummy," says X snuggling up to me.
" I didn't mean to, " I say.
"But you damn did," she says, severely.