Imagine it's Christmas.

Imagine you have bought your small daughter one of those fancy scooter thingies the kids are all zipping around on.

Imagine you have also, being a responsible parent, bought her a set of knee and elbow pads, and of course, a nice, shiny, properly fitted, never been worn Stackhat.

Watch her play happily with her brother for a change, instead of being pushed around, shouted at, and ignored by turns.

Imagine the happy glow you feel.

Then imagine it's Boxing Day.

Visualise your children running outside, smiling at one another, grabbing the scooters and...

"Where's your helmet?"

Imagine a long, long pause, filled with anxiety

Imagine, if you can bear it, eleven days of searching for the missing helmet. Imagine the tears, the dejection ; cupboards turned out, and wastepaper baskets emptied on the floor. Phone calls made to relatives "just in case"

Imagine the disappointment.

Imagine the scooter gathering dust in the corner.

Then imagine yourself realising that, yes, the helmet is gone. Some horrible person must have stolen it from the front garden on Christmas day.

It feels pretty bad, doesn't it?

So you take your daughter to the bike shop.

You buy a new helmet, identical to the first.

You bring her home.

"Go and get your knee and elbow pads, and then you may scoot"

Imagine, if you will, the delighted squeak...

"Mummy! I have two helmets now! I found my old one! It was in the box where I put the knee guards, with my roller skates!"

How do you find something which has been lost?

Replace it.

When searching for a lost object, remember this --

You will always find it in the last place you look.

An alternate method is to procure an identical object, and proceed to lose it, but observing it carefully so that you know where it's at at all times.
The two objects will either

Therefore, this method is not recommended for unique or extremely expensive objects.
Actually, this happens with my youngest daughter all the time. She has not been able to learn one important detail when looking for something.

To find something, do not just stand in the middle of the room and turn in circles. Your x-ray vision is not working yet, and your telekinetic powers are also underdeveloped. You must use your hands to actually physically move things around.

She has lost her bicycle helmet on several occasions. After she spent a good 20 minutes "searching", I've found it:

  • On her bed under her covers.

  • On the handlebars of her bicycle.

  • On her head (honest!)

  • In her closet (spinning in circles did not include opening the closet door).

She still has problems finding things, but after I instruct her to use her hands to find them, she can usually track things down.

I hope she forgets this rule when she starts dating, though.

There are many ways in which to find a lost item. The earliest recorded method I could find was actually written by William Shakespeare in The Merchant of Venice and was later adapted into a common folklore belief involving marbles. At one point, Bassanio is speaking with Antonio of his youth.

"In my school-days, when I had lost one shaft, I shot his fellow of the self-same flight The self-same way with more advised watch, To find the other forth, and by adventuring both I oft found both."

For those that do not read Shakespearese, the translation to modern day English is this.

"Back when I was in school, I used to do archery, and sometimes I'd lose an arrow. When this happened I would fire another arrow of the exact same type in the same direction and watch really closely as to where it landed. Then when I went after it, I often found the first one."

Since then it has been adapted to all sorts of things... though the only one that comes to mind is marbles. Anyone who has ever played marbles outdoors --or indoors with a lot of furniture around-- has felt the trauma of losing a purrie or a steelie, or even... god forbid, a masher. The way to find it was to find a marble of similar make and material and shoot it the same direction. This actually works even better than the arrow method, because generally spheres will tend to follow contours, and gravity will draw them to about the same area if it is uneven ground. I heavily suggest trying it sometime, as an experiment.

And that, my friends, is how you find a lost object. Thank you, Mr. Shakespeare.

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