Recently, M shared some inaccurate information with me. Repeated this inaccurate information. Insisted on this inaccurate information. When confronted with solid evidence directly contradicting this information, there was no verbal admission of guilt. That, my friends, is not how she rolls.

A few days later, M was lamenting the tragedy that was her forced relinquishment of a pair of shin guards. J needed shin guards for field hockey, and she’d inherited a spare pair of M’s.

Okay, first of all, I’ll admit it: sometimes I try to get M to move on from a particular item so that I won’t have to buy something for J. Earlier this winter, due to the miracle of neighborly hand-me-downs, I had in my possession three different pairs of snow pants that were roughly the same size, which was size was slightly-too-big-for-M. J owned a single pair of snow pants: a bit snug in the waist, definitely getting worn, and sporting a duct-tape patch on one knee. Sized between the three big pairs and J’s dilapidated patched pair, the snow pants that M still had from last year were, she insisted, her favorite snow pants ever, ever, ever. The size was perfect. I argued that they seemed almost indistinguishable from the ones a size up, and that’s when M pointed out the hot pink piping, which is “my favorite! It is why I love them!” This argument seemed absurd, since for about four years she refused to wear any pink whatsoever on principle. And as this discussion continued, little J jumped in with, “I like my snow pants. The patch isn’t too leaky and as long as I don’t button the top they fit.” Because that, my friends, is how she rolls.

But back to the shin guards. For the longest time, M owned two identical pairs of yellow shin guards, until they started looking a little small for her legs, and we bought a new pair. The yellow ones have been around as back-ups, but they’d been tucked in a basket literally for months when I fished out one set for J. M readily agreed that J should have them.  That is, until the other day, when she started moaning right before a morning practice about how she was down to one pair of too-small shin guards. “What are you talking about? Where are your A-list shin guards?” I asked.

“They’re gone,” she answered darkly.

“Gone where? You had them last week! Have you looked for them?”


“You’ve looked all around your room? You’ve checked every compartment of your soccer backpack?”

“Yes. That’s what I mean by gone. Do you think I’m too stupid to know how to look for my shin guards?”

This, my friends, is a question best left unanswered.

It was certainly a Great Mystery. That is, until a few hours later, when M & J were playing outside and I decided to conduct my own search. In her backpack, I found M’s A-list shin guards in the second zippered compartment I tried.

They were nestled snugly with a jersey that wasn’t hers. At their last game, the girls had had to switch from black to white right before the game. Rather than opening her own (monogrammed) backpack and pulling out her own (numbered) jersey, M opened a random backpack and picked out a random white jersey, one belonging to the only girl on her team who wouldn’t need it for the game because she was subbing as goalie that night. I had duly laundered the jersey, hung it to dry, and left it with M’s backpack so she could return it to her teammate at that morning’s practice, the same one that had her moaning about her missing shin guards. So she had taken the jersey, shoved it in next to her (allegedly missing) shin guards as she headed to practice, and then neglected to return the jersey, anyway.

I went to the back door to call out to M, busy on the snow fort.

“M? I’m just checking–you’ve already thoroughly searched your backpack for the shin guards, but you couldn’t find them? You unzipped all the pockets?” I called.


“And, this morning, did you remember to return your friend’s jersey?”


“So, you’re saying that the shin guards are still missing, but at least you took care of the jersey?”

Yes!” She’s getting impatient with me now. Seriously, middle-aged women are pretty slow.

“Sweetheart, look.” I hold up the shin guards and the jersey. “They were in the same pocket in your backpack.” She looks at me blankly. “You know, you’re starting to develop a real credibility issue with me.”

She chirped, “Thank you!” And perhaps she missed my credibility statement entirely (like I was saying “wonka-wak-wahhnk” Charlie Brown’s teacher-style), but I swear to God, it seemed like she took it as a compliment. She positively beamed with pleasure.

shin guards

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