Hey there! I'm Vivian. Sometimes I write about life and sometimes I write about teaching.

Last week I wrote about how I tend to be pretty lucky, particularly when it comes to losing things. While I was writing, I remembered a moment from high school when I didn’t think I was so lucky, even though I really was…

“Bye! I’ll be back on time!” I called out, as I dashed down the driveway to meet my boyfriend waiting at the end. (We can talk about why he wasn’t waiting at the door for me another time.) I jumped in the car and we were off.

I don’t even remember where we went, but I have this feeling we went to see the Eddie Murphy movie, Raw. (We can talk about why I was watching an R-rated movie as a 16-year old another time.)

Fast forward to the end of the evening…

I was still feeling high from that oh, so powerful drug, teenage love. Remember that feeling? As I floated up the driveway toward the back door of the house I suddenly crashed back into reality. “WHERE IS MY WALLET?” I patted my pockets even though I knew my wallet was too big to fit into a pocket. I wasn’t carrying a purse that day, just my wallet. Being the time before cell phones, I couldn’t call my beau (does anybody or did anybody ever really use that term?) and ask if I left it in the car. I couldn’t even call from the landline, because my mom would deem it too late to be making calls. Also, I couldn’t let my mom know I had even lost my wallet.

You see my mom doesn’t lose things and she found (finds) it unacceptable for any of her daughters to lose things. When we were younger, we would tear the whole house apart until we found a missing puzzle piece because “puzzle pieces can’t walk out of the house by themselves.” Lose a sock in the laundry? Not in the Chen house! (To this day, I do have a bit of pride around how few socks I have lost in my lifetime.)

Fast forward to the next day…

No, my boyfriend did not find my wallet in his car.

Fast forward two weeks…

“Are you missing something?” my mom asked out of the blue. “How did she know?” I thought, my pulse starting to pick up. I had almost forgotten all about my wallet; when you’re in high school you can do that.

I looked at her, not knowing what to say. Do I fess up? Maybe she’s even not talking about my wallet.

“Uhhh…” I stalled.

“Have you been looking for this?” She pulled my wallet from her behind her back like a magician producing the rabbit from their hat, except instead of “ta da!” it was “a-HA!”

My mom had it the whole time! “I wanted to teach you a lesson,” she explained as she handed me my wallet. “Slow down; pay attention!”

What she didn’t understand then or now, is that I didn’t need that lesson because, well, I’m lucky. I mean, I thought my wallet was lost–my pictures (anyone remember when we carried wallet-sized photos of our family and friends), school ID, money, all gone. But no, they were safely in my mom’s care all along. (We can talk about the lesson my mom learned another time.)



  1. arjeha says:

    Is it a mom thing wanting to teach a child a lesson this way? I know so many people who have similar stories about things they thought were lost only to have “mom” suddenly produce it. Lost or lucky depends on your perspective.

  2. Lainie Levin says:

    I could tell you about the hard lessons my mom made me learn in the wallet way, but we don’t have to talk about that now ; ) I suppose I could also talk about the times I may or may not have made my own kids twist in the wind a little, but we REALLY don’t have to talk about that. And. Eddie Murphy’s Raw. A work of true cultural genius =))

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