As the parent of two small children, I spend an awful lot of my time searching for things. Searching for a single sneaker, searching for a doll we can’t possibly go to the grocery store without, searching for that sippy cup of milk that I know is somewhere in the house, searching for my car keys, searching for a beloved toy that was just here a minute ago I swear.
The thing about searching for these kinds of items is that they’re never in a logical place. If I’m looking for one of the kids’ shoes, I don’t even bother looking in the shoe basket in their room or next to the front door. I know it's not there, because that would be the logical place for it to be. It's never in a logical place. I’ve found shoes between the couch cushions, behind the fridge, under the dining room table, at the bottom of the toy box. My lost car keys are never in my purse or my coat pocket or still stuck in the doorknob or in the drawer in the front hall. They’ve appeared in the refrigerator (no, seriously, I found them there once), inside one of my shoes, in the laundry basket, and on the piano bench. The missing toys and dolls are never merely misplaced among the rest of the toys and dolls in the toy box or in the kids’ bedroom. Oh, no. They’re sitting in my best saucepan in the kitchen cabinet, wedged inside the picnic basket on a high shelf in the laundry room, or tucked into a Rubbermaid tub full of Christmas decorations in the spare bedroom. I’m pretty sure there’s still a sippy cup of milk somewhere in the house that I haven’t found, and probably won’t until it explodes like the biological timebomb it is.
So I’ve learned to get creative with my searches. I no longer think of where something might have been dropped in the normal course of its use; I don’t even bother to retrace the steps of the user. That would make too much sense. Wherever the missing item is, it’s somewhere that makes absolutely no sense for it to be. Therefore, I always begin my search in the least likely places. I shed all pretenses of logic and try to think of places that the missing item has absolutely no reason whatsoever to be, and that's where I look first.
The weird thing is that when I ignore logic and just search, I find stuff. Sometimes I even find the stuff I’m looking for. But more often than not, before I find what’s missing, I find some other stuff that I didn’t even know was missing. Or I find stuff that wasn’t missing, but that was still worth finding. While I’ve been searching in random places, I’ve found all kinds of delightful tidbits left by my children. I’ve discovered creative Lego aliens. I’ve stumbled across dolls dressed up in human clothing, and - best of all - I’ve found lovely bits of artwork that I never would have noticed if I only looked in logical places. All because I was searching, even though what I found wasn’t what I was searching for.