My kids love to play Hide & Seek. They’ve got the “count to ____” and the “I’ll go hide” parts down pretty well. They have even come up with some really creative hiding spaces from time to time. I eagerly wait for the day they find a spot that surprises me.
They’ve also developed some interesting variations on the original.
One kid will hide and the other one will “pretend” to quit the game and just stand around saying “Well, I guess it’s time to do something else” in this obnoxiously loud and insincere voice. Within moments, the “hider” will succumb to this trickery and reveal him/herself. The “seeker” then freaks out, tags the “hider” and runs away yelling “I win” in that same obnoxious voice. The “hider” will then get really angry (one of them) or cry (the other one).
Or, the “hider” finds a cozy little spot (usually in a closet) and the “seeker” walks into the room and asks us if we know where the other kid is. And if we’re not paying attention, the “seeker” will catch us unaware and we rat out the “hider”. Oops.
In another variation, Emma will count and Andrew will go hide. Halfway to twenty, Emma will get bored and go read a book. Andrew will sit in his hiding place for 5 or 6 minutes and then yell out for Emma who has completely forgotten about the game.
The final variation, which is under consideration for banning from household activity, involves scaring the other kid. Instead of hiding and waiting for the “seeker”, the “hider” will wait until “seeker” is close and nervous and then jump out screaming. The outcome of this is similar to the fake “I quit” variation with the added bonus of borderline cardiac arrest if parents are within one room of the scream.
They love this game. They play it, in one form or another, several times per week. I’m going to need a cardiologist soon.
I watch them play and it’s a fascinating thing. Andrew slides the same closet door shut almost every time. Emma rarely looks there even though he so often hides in the same spot. Emma loves a spot behind the loveseat and Andrew almost never finds her there. They both look for the other in the place they like to hide.
I see it all the time so I know where they like to hide. They would deny that they continue to do the same things, day after day, over and over and over. Or, on the spot, they would weave intricate stories of how it really is different because… because…
But it’s not different, is it? Not for them and not for us. Like them, we fall into the same patterns we’ve always fallen into. We utter the same overused excuses and tired clichés and we still hide in the same places. We pretend that each time we hide it’s for a new or different reason, but it’s not. We just don’t want to be found right now.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
We want the security of the closet. We want the comfort of the spot behind the loveseat. We want to be lost for a moment because it’s easier than being found.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
There is no spot that you can hide that isn’t seen and known. I say this not so that you grip more firmly or slip more deeply into your hiding space. I say this so that you know that you are sought after. You are searched for. Your “lost-ness” is a temporary state, even if it’s frequently repeated.
The search for you will never quit. You will never be given up on or forgotten. You will never be scared into making yourself known, or loved. It’s just there. Right around the corner. Inches away. Moments away.
Maybe it’s time to stop hiding. Maybe it’s time to be found.