One of the many, many perks of having Mike on vacation from work is that his car is available for me to use. It’s nice to be able to leave the house and zip around town in a car that isn’t overrun with kid gear and car seats. While he was home over winter break, I used his car at least half a dozen times. I even listened to non-Kidzbop music when I was driving! What a luxury.

On Monday, Mike decided to get some maintenance done on his car before he resumed his commute back to work. He said goodbye to the kids and me, but then spent the next few minutes walking around the house. I was distracted with the kids and didn’t think anything of it, but then he came up to me and said, “Where are my keys? You were the last one to drive my car.”

Ever since I set up our command center next to our front door, I’ve always hung up our car keys on the designated hooks. Occasionally I’ll put the keys in a pocket or in my purse when I’m carrying in groceries or the like, but otherwise I always hang up the keys as soon as I enter the house. So I sweetly said to Mike, “Um, on the key hook, duh.” “Yeah, that was obviously the first place I looked, and they aren’t there.”

Upon investigation (because of course I had to see it for myself with my all-powerful mom eyes), I saw he was right. “Well, I very clearly remember coming home and accidentally making your car honk when I locked it. Then when I unlocked the door I noticed that you have two keys that look identical and I thought that was weird. Then I hung up the keys. So. This is obviously not my fault.” Strangely, he didn’t see it that way, so I spent the next few minutes emptying my purse, going through jeans pockets, and digging through laundry. Nothing turned up the keys.

At this point, Mike was fairly annoyed because he had car maintenance blah blah blah to do and it was getting later in the day. “How am I supposed to get all of this gobbledygook done on my car if I can’t drive it anywhere?” (that’s how I remember it at least). So I said, “Hey, it’s cool, take a chill pill and use the spare key.” I always forget that telling someone to take a chill pill does not, in fact, make them chill.

So we’re going on like five days of not being able to find these dumb keys. Mike even offered Annabel $5 if she could find them, which I thought for sure would work because Annabel is suddenly able to do anything when money is involved, but no dice. I loudly proclaim my innocence every day but Annie and Mike disagree. Or at least they DID disagree, unnnnnntil… *Law & Order noise*

We got the kids a ride-on car for Christmas. James is absolutely obsessed with it.

It’s currently parked in our playroom, and James will sit in it all day. He’ll put stuffed animals in the passenger seat next to him and he’ll pretend to drive while he blasts the radio (yes, it has a radio. It was cute for the first two minutes.). Yesterday, I was sitting on the couch, working on my computer, when James came up to me and said, “Mama, I got the keys for my car.” I was like, “Oh, that’s nice,” in the distracted, not-paying-attention-way every parent has mastered. But then I heard a jingle, and I looked up to see he was standing there with my car keys. The same keys I’d hung up earlier on the hook that had previously been unreachable by James. Damn it if he doesn’t keep growing.

I suddenly realized that I was not responsible for Mike’s lost keys (not that I’d, um, ever doubted myself or thought I was losing my mind or anything). I said super-casually in a non-frightening tone, “JAMES DID YOU TAKE DADDY’S CAR KEYS WHAT DID YOU DO WITH THEM?!” And he was like, “Yeah! To drive my car!” And I said, “WHERE ARE THEY OMG WHERRRRRE?” And he said, “In my car!” So I looked and nope. They weren’t there.

I spent the next hour looking in all of James’ known hiding spots, with no success. Every time I’d say, “James, show me where you put the keys,” he’d take my hand and lead me…back to the command center. “Dere! On da hook!” GAAAH!

When Mike got home, I immediately said, “Hey James! Did you take Daddy’s keys?” And he replied, “Yeah! To drive my car!” and I was like, “SEE I DIDN’T DO IT! I! AM! VINDICATED!” Mike then spent the next hour on another James-led wild goose chase.

Unfortunately, we still don’t know where the keys are. But at least I’m not losing my mind, so I’m counting it as a win.