Making a “Murse” and Coping with “Borrowing”

Last night, I went to bed lamenting a particular problem.

I have too much stuff to carry in my pockets. Usually I’m carting a stack of books, my phone, my tablet or laptop, my glasses, and a bunch of papers that need attention. Most of the time, I’m only lugging the stuff from upstairs to downstairs and vice versa.

I try to keep my things together and out of reach, but there are little miscreants here who are positively fascinated with my very mundane possessions, just because they’re mine.

Back when I had an office and practiced law full-time, I used my briefcase to hold the items I’d need for the day. I took it from home to the office to court. It has an unbelievably good leather smell. When we moved back to California, the briefcase I received as a gift from my wife for graduation from law school went up in a closet to collect dust:

2014-07-17 13.19.49

It occurred to me that I might feel better if I still had something to carry all my things in, where children aren’t allowed. Because, the children are always stealing from me, and I suspect my wife does too.

For Christmas and birthdays, I  receive a new box of pens. But then these pens magically disappear and only reappear when a child needs one. A few weeks ago, the oldest bought me a couple of black Sharpie markers, which have also disappeared, despite my full-tilt rants about “Where are the new Sharpie pens that no one else but Daddy are allowed to use???”

Some of the things perpetually stolen from me include: copy paper, bonded envelopes, scotch tape, the stapler, rubber bands, scissors, packing tape, thumbtacks, batteries, glue, screwdrivers and pliers, power cords, and chapstick.

If an item belonging to me does not totally disappear, then it will be found somewhere logical, like on the floor next to the toilet in the bathroom, because that’s exactly where it makes sense to stumble upon a combination of things like butchers’ twine, paper clips, and some pipe cleaners.

Or you might discover a dozen and a half business envelopes addressed to Grandma, each containing a couple (or up to six) index cards with scribbles on them, and each covered with at least two upside-down postage stamps. Hate to tell you, kid, but the United States Postal Service does not pick up from your Melissa & Doug mailbox.

Last week, while I was in Guatemala, the babysitter helped the boys to make “lava lamps” using water with food coloring and oil. Problem is, no one thought I’d mind them using an entire 24-ounce bottle of extra virgin olive oil from the deacon’s olive ranch to make them, which they used after they already cleared out all of my vegetable oil.

Sometimes it seems so egregious that you begin to suspect it’s deliberate.

The more you try to saturate the house with the disappearing items so there’s plenty for everyone to use, the more the children consider the bounty of these items to be permission for a bacchanalia of garbage manufacture.

Scarcity seems only to remain for me, the one who paid for the stuff. God forbid that one pair of scissors remain in the drawer where I keep them in the kitchen. After all, I only bought 6 pairs at Ikea the last time we were there.

2014-07-17 13.22.35Obviously, I can’t hoard everything and cram it into one easy-to-carry bag, but I think it’s time to put the briefcase back in use. At least I can put my most used things in there.

20140717_095429And I can’t get any more weird than I already am, so I don’t really care if you call it a briefcase or not; you can say it’s my “Murse”, because that’s what it is: a bag for my stuff that children are not allowed to invade. It’s a Murse and not a diaper bag, because a diaper bag is for their stuff.

My ever-efficient wife, dumped a bunch of old papers and photos in the briefcase before cramming it into the library closet, so I had to go through it to make it ready to use. I discovered a couple of funny things. A Christmas necktie, my old bar cards and security cards. Somehow an old newspaper clipping has survived through the years, documenting the first time that my wife and I were photographed together, 25 years ago:

2014-07-17 13.21.10

Me (front left), a sixth grader — and she (middle back), an eighth grader, following our middle school’s speech contest

I sort of wish I could go back and tell that doughy boy not to steal scissors from his mom’s drawer without returning them. Or to stop using every last ounce of vinegar and baking soda in the house to make volcanoes. That kid was almost as jerky as my kids. But that kid’s parents didn’t have as much stuff to steal.


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