I arrived home yesterday afternoon and Madison was waiting for me. I thanked Lynnette’s parents for picking up and watching over Mad after school; they left soon after. “Dad?” Madison said coyly. “Yes?” “Um, I haven’t been able to find my iPad for days and I don’t know where it is. Can you help me find it?” I responded that I would. I got out of my work clothes, but by then my mind had already shut off. “Guess what time it is?” I asked Madison. This has been an afternoon running joke since the summer. Madison smiled and pretended not to know. “What?” she asked. “It’s Castle time!” I like Nathon Fillion, but I love Stana Katic. Madison reacts with fake outrage every time I say it, but this time she added on something new. “Um, let’s focus on my iPad.” Of course I laughed. The worst thing in the world is when your students or your kid uses the things you teach them against you.
What Madison really means when she says “I can’t find my iPad” is “I haven’t been able to watch Pokemon in, like, forever.” We both knew this, but didn’t get into it. “OK, where did you put it?” I asked. She led me to her bedroom and opened the closet door. “I hid it in here when you and mom said I couldn’t watch Pokemon anymore,” she said. Oh, I completely caught the passive-aggressive suggestion that this was partially the fault of her parents. Mad is the worst Netflix binger in the house, and that’s saying something. My favorite part of her Pokemon addiction usually occurs at night. The lights are out, Lynnette and I are on our phones, and Mad’s on her iPad. Sometimes her video lags. That’s when she screams “Too many people are using technology!” Lynnette and I laugh every single time. I went through her closet. “I even asked Mama and Papa to help me,” she said. “You’re right,” I said. “It’s not here.”
Next, we looked in the master bedroom. I directed Mad to check through her corner of the room. She’s got some books, a notebook, and some writing supplies in that nook. Sometimes before bed we have her read to us or make a journal entry about her favorite parts of the day. Yeah, she really would prefer watching the same episodes of Pokemon over and over, but that’s not a choice she gets to make every night. “It’s not here, dad,” she said. “I told you, I didn’t leave it in here.” Well, then. Just to be sure, I moved the hamper, checked in the drawers of my nightstand, and in the interest of saving my back, told Madison to look under the bed. “Nope,” she said, kind of upbeat. I didn’t know how to interpret that. Was she just somewhat happy because it wasn’t in the room like she had said? Did she just want to be right, even if it meant she didn’t get what she wanted? This is a dangerous trait, one I’ve seen before in her mother. This bears watching.
I blew through the computer room because it’s the least cluttered. It wasn’t in there. We finally got into the living room and did a thorough search. I made Madison look under the couches, the ottomans, and her beanbag. I looked between the pillows of the couch. I even made Madison search through the drawers of the entertainment center (poor Abby – when Madison opened the drawer where her leash is stored, our dog raced to Madison expecting a walk!) and the storage unit we have near the dinner table… while I watched Castle. Ironically, Nathan Fillion’s frozen face is eerily close to my own facial expressions during this ordeal. “Dad! You’re not helping!” Mad shouted. She was right, though, I can’t lie. I combed through the bookshelves and did everything but look inside the cabinets and dishwasher. I refused. I’m a rational man, and cannot accept that an iPad would be cruising in either place, even though Lynnette once lost her keys and found them later inside of the freezer downstairs.
I believed that we searched every probably corner of the house. “Are you sure you didn’t leave it in mom’s car?” I asked. “No, dad,” she said. “Did you bring it to the picnic last weekend?” I asked. “No, I didn’t take it to the picnic,” she said. Eff.
We went back into her bedroom because it is the most cluttered in the house. Perhaps there was something I missed. I moved her mattress off the box spring and checked down the sides of the bed. By this time, sweat was trickling down my forehead and a few drops had landed on Mad’s bed. Gross. I looked through all her toy bins, under blankets, inside of mini-purses. Nothing. Then, I looked at the apocalyptic wasteland that is the top of her dresser. I saw the metal basket filled with blankets that Madison uses as “Honey’s bed.” I lifted the top layer of blanket and there it was. “Madison!” I shouted. She was scared. “What, dad?” she asked. “Look in Honey’s bed,” I said. She saw it and a huge grin broke out over her face. “How did that get there?” I asked. “I put it there,” she said. Admission of guilt and error? This is a curious trait, one I have not seen before in her mother. This bears watching.
“Thank you, dad,” Mad said as she plopped down on the couch and called up her beloved Pokemon Black and White. A few minutes later, Lynnette got home and I got up to move my car behind her. Madison likes to ride in the front seat with me whenever I do this. She put her iPad down and descended the stairs with me. A boy who lives across the street spotted Madison and asked if she could play outside today. “Uhhh…” she started. “What?” I said. “You’d rather go back inside and watch Pokemon?” I said. “DAD!” she shouted. But the redness in her face gave it away.