For me, a successful school day for the girls has nothing to do with their finishing schoolwork or showing extra-good behavior in class or answering a teacher correctly. I consider the day a shining success if all the girls have their jackets when I pick them up.
I pick up the girls every day, either directly from school on the days I don't work, or from the after school program on the days that I do, and my first question after greeting them is always, "Where's your jacket?" Invariably, every day, I mean every single day, someone doesn't have theirs on hand. Sometimes it's not far away, just left in their cubby at the after school, or one of the ladies picked it up on the playground and it's on top of a bookshelf. Sometimes when I get them from school it's back in the classroom and we dash back in to get it before leaving. But all too often it is no where in the immediate vicinity, and the owner has no clue where she left it, and then my work begins.
At my next available opportunity I have to look through the three massive lost and found collections at the school, which contain items that date back years, I swear. At least the piles smell like they date back years. Actually, sorting through them is a task that's offensive to many senses all at once. If it isn't there I also have the classroom(s) to check, the lost and found at the after school, and also the playground and lunch table areas. Every week I'm on the hunt for jackets, but at least I'm usually successful a day or two after the loss.
A few weeks ago I picked up the girls from after care and Allison didn't have her jacket. "Which one did you have today?" I asked, since John drove her to school that morning and I didn't see her with one. "My light blue one," she answered. That means the brand new light blue Columbia fleece I paid full price for this winter. Drat. And the hunt began. Unlike previous efforts, the fleece was no where to be found. I checked everywhere, all the usual places and more every single school day since then, and it was just gone, and I was really frustrated. Stolen I theorized, but I continued looking. "Are you STILL looking for that fleece jacket?" one of the women at after care asked me earlier this week, as I rifled through their bin yet again.
Finally, yesterday, as I was signing out of my volunteer time in the school office, I decided to go through their lost and found collection for the 23rd time in about as many days, and there it was! I was probably disproportionately overjoyed I have to admit, but finally this particular hunt was over and I could stay out of the lost and found piles for a while.
I showed Allison her found jacket and asked her for the billionth time to please ALWAYS put her jacket in her backpack when she takes it off at school.
This morning, Allison wanted to wear her recovered blue fleece jacket, but it was in the laundry, so she wore Kate's identical blue fleece jacket instead. When I picked up the girls from after care today I noticed Allison didn't have a jacket on her back or in her hand.
"Where's your jacket, Allison? In your backpack?"
"Um...no. I......lost it."