Last week, just before taking my 7-year-old twin boys to my hometown of Cincinnati for a family reunion, I took care of something that's a rite of passage for little boys everywhere: I got them their first wallets. They recently "discovered" money, (actually, they've quickly become frighteningly obsessed with it), so I figured it was time to get them their own wallets; not just to give them a place to keep their cash, but to begin learning to handle and protect their money responsibly.
I hiked over to Times Square to find something kitschy and colorful at a souvenir shop, and found a couple of wallets that, appropriately, had images of hundred-dollar bills on them. When I gave them to Luke and Jamie the next morning, you would have thought it was Christmas. I don't think they let them out of their hands for two days. Everybody we bumped into, from the airline ticket agents to my cousins were shown the wallets and told exactly how much money was in them. They would take their bills out and count them and recount them. Unfortunately, when they finally did decide to put them aside for awhile, it would be on the floor or in the car, usually with the cash splayed out all around them, while they blithely went on their way to some other activity.
So this is where dear old Dad stepped in. Each time they'd leave their new wallets lying around, I was there with a stern lecture on how a man has to protect his wallet almost above all else, how he should always know where it is, and how awful an experience it is when it gets lost. I went on and on about it. Life lesson, and all that. I got the feeling it was even starting to sink in with them.
We got back from Ohio on Sunday night. On Monday, I lost my wallet.
I think I lost it on my Metro North train heading home from work, probably left behind on the seat because I didn't take that last look back before getting off at my station. I didn't realize it was missing until I was ready to go back to work the next day, and I've pretty much been miserable and distracted ever since. I searched everywhere, from the surprisingly well-run lost and found at Grand Central (where all lost items from every line eventually end up) to the police department in my town, on the off chance that I dropped it closer to home and someone turned it in. Nothing.
I'll eventually stop beating myself up over this, but one big question looms: what do I tell my boys about it? DO I tell my boys? I honestly don't know if they'll appreciate my honesty -- my acknowledgment that I made the very mistake I had just spent three days preaching about -- or if they'll think I'm a complete knucklehead. I'm leaning toward telling them; I don't think parents should try to pass themselves off as infallible. I guess I'll try to make it an extension of that life lesson, let them know that something like losing your wallet can happen to anyone if you don't stay on your toes. Let me know in comments if you have any advice for me. While you're at it, keep an eye out for my wallet.