There is a scene that plays itself out on a daily basis in my home. A child cannot find something. It begins innocently enough--
"Mom, have you seen my _______? I can't find it anywhere."
I reply, "No, have you checked your room?'
And just like that it escalates. "OF COURSE, I've checked my room. I've been looking for an hour already. I just know that 'so and so' took it. She takes everything. Or you lost it in the laundry. Or put it in someone else's stuff. HOW CAN YOU JUST SIT THERE? HELP ME FIND IT."
I calmly walk into her room. Open the first drawer, grab the messy pile of PJ's from on top and Voila! item found.
For the record, missing items have ALWAYS been found in the room of the person who lost them. To date, the laundry has not been responsible for the loss of any clothing article. Siblings, who do often borrow stuff, have a pretty impeccable record for sneaking it back into the original closet.
While I think my children extraordinarily gifted and intelligent, their searching skills are horrible. Their idea of looking for something involves yelling at other people to look for them. Sometimes with their eyes closed. I have not yet figured out how to properly educate them on the basics of searching for missing clothes.
Step 1 : Clean your room
Step 2 : organize your drawers and closet (that means fold all things unfolded and hang all things hangable)
Step 3 : If you still haven't found it, check all the other places you stash stuff -- corners, bags, nooks, under the bed, behind the door, in the bathtub, etc. . .
It's like a guarantee. But I can't get my kids to do it. The good news is that this ailment appears to remedy itself with age, independence and solo living. It's the great circle of life. I suffered from this as a child. My children will someday be able to find their own stuff. And I hope I am around when the inevitable text arrives