I am saddened by my son’s lost wallet: Shall I name it Rosebud?


Many years ago, I was a young girl at boarding school learning to be independent. It was a huge step for a young Hispanic girl from the Bronx to attend a boarding school way up north in Massachusetts. My family, especially my mother, was very sad to see me go to school so far away but yet she sacrificed so that I could have more in life.   As such I never wanted to disappoint her. I worked hard. I did well. I called her everyday. I learned to do laundry on my own. I learned to pace my studying. I was accountable to myself.


One day, I then severely disappointed myself.   I lost the wallet with my Amtrak money. That was my money to go home for the Thanksgiving break. Luckily for me, someone was kind to me and I made it home and my mom did not come to know of my lost wallet. I was so ashamed that I had lost it.  It was one of the moments of shame and disappointment that stayed with me for many years. Decades even.   I am, and always will be, my biggest critic. I beat myself up so harshly over the lost wallet that I have even had nightmares about it.


Fast forward a few decades and here I have a nine year old boy that has his own wallet, much to his delight.  He loves going to the GameStop store and shopping for his latest favorite video game.  He does chores here and there. He also saves pennies, dimes and nickles across ten piggy banks or so.  And sadly, that moment came where his wallet got misplaced. Well, rather, it was lost. Now who lost it is a matter of much debate at home. Due to the fact that we clean up his room, he believes we lost it.  We do not know whether that is true or not.


Regardless, I am saddened by his sadness at losing his wallet. I was taken back to the day that I combed through the campus lawns in a fruitless search for my wallet that had taken had enormous meaning in my life. My son doesn’t have that level of sadness. Thankfully. However, these are sometimes the small moments that do stay with us. What about this incident will stay in his head? How will he ruminate about this loss, if he even does agonize about it repeatedly? We have talked about it and came to the conclusion that going forward he should really try to clean up his room so that he can track where he leaves his wallet.   Meanwhile, I got him a new wallet and he is starting to save his money anew.


All is ok going froward. But yet I can’t help but feel a twinge of sadness about this wallet incident. It is amazing how there are certain things we can’t let go of in life and how small those very things might be. Or so, how small they may seem to others.  Yet in our minds they are huge and manage to drive many of our current behaviors even decades apart. Although, not exactly similar, this does remind me a tad bit of the movie Citizen Kane and the eventual reveal of “Rosebud”.   I won’t give away the ending although are there many people that have yet to see Citizen Kane that plan to?


But back to the wallet. At the end of the day, it may all very well be about not disappointing others. Maybe I need a wallet for my wallet.

10 replies »

  1. I know your feelings of shame very well. You describe them perfectly. I think it is something about the way we were raised; I don’t think that my kids have the same “baggage,” either. That’s a good thing. Girls, especially, need to be able to differentiate between what is in their control and what is not. We too often feel guilty and are motivated by those things that are not attributable to our action. Others can manipulate that.


      • I have difficulty forgetting about the things I’ve lost, however small, because it doesn’t fit with my self-image of a very careful person. Unfortunately I’ve unconsciously inculcated this awful flaw in my kids too, so no generational shift here. Sometimes I suspect it is more about ‘Mama will feel bad’ rather than their feeling bad themselves and, if so, it is superficial and will hopefully go away one day!


  2. I hate losing things, ANYTHING, so a lot of my thought goes into not losing my things. I should be careful what I say just in case I do end up losing my things…. I enjoy your writing mighty thoroughly. You’re right, it is the things that impact us the most that drive our behaviours throughout our lives.


  3. Anytime I would misplace my wallet or have it drop, it was because it was in an insecure back pocket. A chiropractor advised me, seven years ago, to not keep anything heavy in my back pocket, as it pulled on the spine. I keep my wallet elsewhere on my person, now, and have had no issues of that sort, ever since.


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