A traumatic e-vent

A couple weeks ago, L.(4) lost a pencil. In my motherly naiveté, I assumed it was “just a pencil,” and that it could be replaced by any other random pencil.

I assumed wrong.

Apparently, this pencil, which L. called “the sheep pencil,” was near and dear to his heart. All I knew about it was that it was bright orange and said, “The Lord is My Shepherd” on it. It didn’t seem particularly remarkable for a pencil. I had seen L. using it a handful of times but I didn’t realize how very special it was to him. L. was seriously upset at the loss of this beloved writing instrument.

Even offering him a way cool see-through mechanical pencil did nothing to assuage his distress. The sheep pencil had to be found.

The two of us searched the house. Or rather, we searched all the areas of the house where we thought the sheep pencil might reasonably be. Drawers, desks, crayon bins. Toy box, Lego bin, bookshelf. Under the bed, behind the couch, next to the computer.

We couldn’t find it. And I couldn’t even remember the last time I’d seen it. The sadness on L.’s face was heart-breaking, yet a little bewildering to me. I wouldn’t have labeled him the kind of kid to get so attached to a pencil.

In the course of our search, L. became convinced that his pencil had disappeared down the heating vent in his bedroom. Or rather, he believed that the heating vent (which he mistakenly, but very cutely, called an “air compressor”) had actually sucked the pencil down into the bowels of our house, causing it to disappear forever.

I assured him that heating vents / “air compressors” do not suck objects into them. They actually blow air out of them. That is their job and they don’t really venture beyond their given purpose. Now, it is certainly possible that little boys — who shall remain nameless — might drop or stick or shove items into heating vents, but if he didn’t do that, I was 100% sure that his pencil was not lost in our ductwork.

Still, he asked me to remove the vent cover and search for the pencil.

Because I’m such a nice mom, I did. Still… no pencil.


You’ll be happy to know that about an hour later, L. found the sheep pencil. It was in the basement, stuck behind several Wii remotes. (Of course! Why didn’t we look there in the first place? Wii remotes and sheep pencils are known to hang out together.)

L. was overjoyed. In fact, he gave me the biggest hug ever and said, “Oh, Mom! We were given a second chance with this pencil when we worked together to find it!” And he was close to tears. It was truly a touching moment.

The sheep pencil had been lost, but now it was found, and all was well in our little world.


Well, perhaps not quite ALL was well.

Despite the fact that our heating vents were cleared of guilt during the course of our investigation, L. maintains a certain distrust for all floor vents.

The other day, he couldn’t find his pajama shirt and the first thing he asked was, “Can a shirt fit into a heating vent? Do you think it went there?” He asked the same thing about an iPod and a notebook over the course of the next few days. Could they fit in heating vents? Do I think maybe we would find missing treasures if I removed the vent cover again?

He’s even gone so far as to tell me that we should immediately move into a house that has absolutely no heating vents whatsoever.

Despite my attempts to convince him that a house without vents would be very cold in the winter and very hot in the summer, he’s not buying it. He’s pretty sure that living in a ventless and ductless house would be worth it, simply because he could know for sure that no vents would suck his belongings into them when no one was looking.

I’m sure that it will just be a matter of time — and continued evidence that our ducts and vents are behaving themselves — before L. once again trusts our vents and can relax in his own home. But for now, I occasionally walk into his room to find that his vent is covered by a blanket or stuffed animal…just to be safe.


  1. Oh..the funny things that kids are worried about..
    I’m sure he’ll out-grow it & both of you will look back & laugh over it..

  2. Oh how sweet! Kyle has attachments to certain things as well, and I can imagine his distress if they went missing. And as you know, Kyle would likely call something a bigger word than needed (What 4 year old comes up with air compressor???).

    Oh–and come on down to Texas. No floor vents here. It’s all central heat and air from the ceiling. I don’t know if they could still suck the items UP, but it’s not nearly as dangerous :)
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  3. Anonymous says:

    On Fri., after I read his COW book to him, he tried to see if it would fit in the vent. Noway!!. He then hopped into his bed, and all was right with the world. I didn’t know why he did that, but now it makes sense. Mom

  4. We have vents in our ceiling too, thanks to our home being built on a concrete slab!

    Haven’t visited in awhile so if I’m embarrassingly behind, you’ll forgive me, right–but I love your blog’s look! Did you do it?
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  5. I love it! If only I could say “I am so glad to have a second chance with you!” when I find a lost item, rather than cursing said item and all its ancestors :)

  6. hehe this is hilarious!! So glad you were able to find the pencil! Sammy likes to put things in our vents.. including bodily functions.. yea.. so not cool!!!

  7. When we lived in WA (been in TX for about 6 weeks), our boys were convinced that stuff disappeared down the vent. Now, to be honest, a few Lego have been played with a little close and have been accidentally dropped down but some where rescued and some have not been. However, my 3 year old threw me for a loop the other day when he asked me if our dog, Phoenix, could get out of the vent yet. Huh? I had to have her put down b/c of a horrible disease and even after MANY gentle explanations about death, Judah was still not “getting it.” He is still convinced that our vet is keeping Phoenix in the vent. Poor kid!

  8. But don’t you see, it was the vent that sucked up the pencil and dropped it amongst all the wii remotes. Vents are tricky things. And they seem so innocent.
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