The Key



In March, I started using our filing cabinet as a safe for the treats I bought to pack in school lunches. I’d been buying cookies and brownie bites for lunches but they never lasted the whole week. I begged the kids not to eat them and they promised not to and then…they would eat them anyway. So, I started locking the treats in the filing cabinet.

Looking back, I should have handled this differently. The natural consequence of eating the treats meant for lunches is that you won’t have treats for your lunches. Natural consequences would have been better than locking them up but, honestly, I just wanted to win.

Luisa and I each had a key to the cabinet and we hid our keys and went about our lives. The kids would ask “Where are the cookies?” and I would smile and say, “They are locked away for lunches!” Victory was mine!

Shortly after Easter, Luisa and I bought a bunch of Reese’s peanut butter eggs on clearance at Target and locked them up in the filing cabinet to dole out on our next movie night. I didn’t pay much attention to the contents of the filing cabinet because the kids were taking Easter candy in their lunches and the packages from the other stuff were still in there.

When movie night rolled around, Zeca asked if I would run to the store and get her some Reese’s peanut butter cups for the movie and I excitedly exclaimed, “No need for that! We bought you some Reese’s eggs and they’re in the filing cabinet!” She said, “Yeah…about that…”

The girl had found my key at some point and had been helping herself to the contents of the filing cabinet for weeks and I hadn’t noticed. By the time that movie night rolled around, she had eaten all the Reese’s eggs. I was horrified and I was mad because I thought I had won the Great Lunch Treat Battle of 2019 but NO, I had not.

So, I hid my key again. I hid it in a place that she would never find it. Except she did. When I confronted her about it, she said, “Well, you’ve made it a game now.” She found my key three times and Luisa’s key zero times. I wasn’t even keeping much in the filing cabinet anymore but I hid the key again on principle. I hid it in what I was certain was the perfect hiding place.

And it was…because now I can’t find it either.

Last week, I spent two hours looking for it. I cleaned out my desk and found three keys - none of them to the filing cabinet. I cleaned out my nightstand and found another key - also not to the filing cabinet. I have no idea what any of those keys go to and I never found the filing cabinet key. It is entirely possible Zeca found the key and kept it. I can’t ask her because she’s at camp but it doesn’t matter at this point. I surrender.

The moral of this story should probably be something about parenting as your best self rather than your petty self but the real lesson is that the kids always win. Always.