Keys lost? Or did you just hide them somewhere?
I celebrated. After spending the summer in my car, driving he and his sister to their part-time jobs, social engagements, and shopping trips, my son wasn't the only one excited at the freedom his "N" would bring.
The first time he left alone, using his mirrors to skillfully back out of our driveway, offering an elated wave before slowly pulling away, obeying the speed limit on our children-laden lane, I cried. Then I prayed.
Because while getting his license is a huge milestone, letting him go is too. Sending our son out on the road may be the most dangerous thing we've willingly done.
Yes, Young Drivers made a good operator of him. No, he'd never text and drive. But what about all the other people on the road? And what about me? No longer needed for transportation, I have more free time, but I miss the chatting that occurred, locked with my teen in an enclosed space.
So last weekend, when our son spent the night at his friend's house, and I got a phone call the next morning asking if I could come help, I jumped at the chance.
"I've locked my keys in my trunk," he said. "Can you bring my other set?"
What? I'm needed? Mother to the rescue...but for one problem.
I couldn't find the key.
I texted him: "Where's your spare key?" He wrote back: "Wherever you left it when you took it away."
Oh, right. About a month ago, in a fit of motherly madness, upset with some teenage infraction, I took off running with his car keys. All of them. Like a lunatic, I hid the spare. Hours and heartfelt apologies later, he had the originals back in his hot hands.
Now, along with no recollection of what he did to deserve the loss of his car, I have zero recall of where I hid the spare key.
Ever have a hiding place so good even you can't find it? It's unsettling. So much, scientists have studied it.
Researchers at the University of Alberta were curious why adults hide things where they do. Eric Legge and his team gathered up 102 volunteers and had them hide index cards under tiles scattered around a regular, furnished room. Next the participants had to find cards hidden by other people.
It was an adult game of hide-and-seek and fascinatingly, scientists discovered that people don't tend to search for things in the places they might normally hide them.
According to sciencemag.org, "Participants preferred hiding objects in the middle of the room, yet they tended to search for hidden items in the corners of the room."
Scientists replicated the study on computers, asking participants to hide and find objects in a virtual room where they could manipulate the position of furniture, doors and windows. Consistently participants chose to hide things in dark parts of the room, like corners and away from lit areas, like spaces near windows. Again, however, people hid objects in one place and looked for them in another.
So why do people behave this way and who cares?
Legge's group was looking for answers that might assist in understanding where terrorists and criminals hide bombs and contraband. While different parts of the brain might control hiding and seeking behaviour, Legge foresees the development of scanning systems to pinpoint areas of high risk and to hopefully prevent bombings and other loss of life scenarios.
On a friendlier note, the technology could also be applied to video games, where objectives often include looking for lost items.
Fascinating stuff, but I still can't find my son's spare key. I had to call a tow truck to unlock his door so he could get into his trunk. A big bill to bail him out later, maybe I should start looking in dark corners for that key. Or maybe I should just ask my husband where he would have hidden it - and then look somewhere else.
Shannon Linden, a Kelowna resident, writes blogs, magazine articles, and grocery lists. Married to an ER physician, her medical update column runs Wednesdays in the Daily Courier. Visit her at shannonlinden.ca.