If you have been to school a few weeks into term, you might have noticed that there is an appalling amount of unclaimed clothing in the lost and found box. It has always bewildered staff and parents that children could possibly leave so much clothing behind. Pants, left at school? How? Spiderman tightie-whities that no one wants to touch. How do socks get left behind so often? we ask. You think they'd realize they came to school with a pair of tights and are going home bare-legged.
This week my daughter, who has just begun third grade, told me that there was a terrible argument in the girls' washroom after Phys. Ed. class. All the little girls had changed to go cross-country running outside, something they had not done in previous years. Feeling terribly grown-up, they launched their street-clothes into a pile and headed outside with Martin. When they came in, they found that many of them had similar jeans, in similar sizes, and several girls were not completely sure which was theirs.
How can that be, you ask? How can they not they recognize the clothes they put on their little selves that morning? Well, most of the clothing at this time of year is new, so the children haven't worn it very much. Additionally, many have the same or similar brands, in similar sizes, so sometimes there isn't much to tell them apart.
This is a good example of what seems to be the crux of the problem: many students do not recognize the clothing in the lost and found as theirs. This doesn't necessarily indicate poor observations skills. You would be amazed how many navy-blue mittens come to school. Pink hoodies covered in princesses are a dime a dozen. Some children also have a great deal of clothing, so they (and their teachers) don't associate a certain child with a certain NHL sweatshirt. So writing names or using clothing tags is a way of making sure the clothes you spent your hard-earned money on won't make a trip to school and never return.
The third-graders, Jillian told me, came to an arrangement on what was whose. But she isn't completely sure why, when all was said and done, there was a lonely pair of underpants on the washroom floor. You'd think, she said, someone would know if they had no undies on.
Yes, you'd think so.