Hide and Seek is a Learned Skill

I was sitting at the computer this evening when I heard a little voice call out from the living room: “Mommy! Come find me!”

I smiled and pushed away from the desk. As I approached the living room, I said, “Now don’t say anything. Don’t say where you are if you want me to find you. You are supposed to be hiding.”

“Okay!” said the cabinet under the TV.

“Now, don’t talk. You’ll give away where you are.”

“Okay, but I just want to tell you something real quick.”

I turned around to see Hal poking his head out from the cabinet.

“Now I can’t find you because you’ve already shown me where you are!”

“Yes you can. You just have to pretend. I just wanted to tell you to not look in here.”

With a sigh, I waited for him to close the door and call out “Come find me!” Then I opened the door.

“Uggh! Mommy! I told you not to look in here!”

“But that’s not how it works, Hal. When you hide, you need to be quiet and not tell the seeker where you are. Let’s try again. I’m going to hide my eyes and count to twenty. You very quietly find a new place to hide.”

“Okay,” he said, backing up to the cabinet he had just crawled out of.

“No, Hal. Someplace else. And wait until I’m counting.”

He hurried over to the toy chest and began throwing light sabers out of it. “Wait, Mommy! Don’t start counting yet! Wait!”

“No, Hal. Don’t climb into the toy chest. You’ll break something. Besides, I already know you want to hide there. You need to wait until I’ve hidden my eyes and then find a place to hide. In a different room. Okay?”

With that, I leaned against the door frame between the living room and dining room and began to count. For good measure, I counted loudly and plugged my ears, hoping I’d be unable to hear which direction he ran. Unfortunately, the loud scraping of the dining room chairs was unmistakable.

A futile hope that he might change hiding places provoked me to call out in a warning tone, “I hear the dining room chairs moving! I hope you aren’t hiding there!”

When I got to twenty, I then yelled, “Ready or not, here I come” and then whispered “while trying to pretend I don’t see you under the table.”

I looked in the pantry, so loaded with food that no one could fit in it. Then I looked in the freezer, also too small for human habitation. The whole time, I could hear giggling and shifting feet in the dining room. When I turned around, I jumped in feigned surprise and yelled, “There you are!”

Hal then told me to count again and began running down the hall. As I counted, I heard a bedroom door slam. When the looking time started, I could see that two doors were closed: his sister’s, which is always closed, and his, which is never.

To heighten his excitement, I first stopped in the bathroom. “He’s not behind the bathroom door!… He’s not behind the shower curtain!…” Opening Jane’s door, I continued, “Not under Jane’s desk!… Not in her closet! Which is good – you might get hurt in there!”

Finally, I opened his door to stifled giggles. He was making a valiant effort to stay quiet as he “hid” on the portion of his bed under his brother’s bunk. As soon as I came into view, however, he burst out laughing.

He decided that maybe the seeking could be fun and I got my chance to hide at last. Once he started counting, I slipped silently into the hall closet – the closet that is never opened.

When he started searching, he looked in the pantry. Then he called out that I wasn’t in the freezer. Then he walked into the bathroom and said, “Let’s see if she’s in the toilet!” Really? The toilet?! “Nope! Not in the toilet!” It took considerable will not to shake the door with laughter.

“Man, Mommy is a really good hider.”

He checked all of his hiding places and then begged me to come out. I called for him to look again. He asked where I was. Silence. “Mommy, where are you? Are you in your room?” By now I had pulled the door open about six inches but he walked right past it.

“No,” I called out.

“Then where are you?” He started to sound panicked, like I might actually never rejoin him. As he walked past the door and it was obvious that he wouldn’t look my direction, I yelled “Boo!”

He laughed and fussed and said he wanted to hide in there. He was visibly upset that he could’t find me, so I had to hug him and reassure him it was okay. I never got a chance to hide again.

The next round found him back in the TV cabinet with a “pretend you don’t know I’m here.” I walked by it and knocked softly with my toes. He jumped out, yelling “Boo!” I acted surprised. He announced, “Let’s play that game, Mommy! The one where someone hides and then you knock on the door and then they jump out and scare you!”

I caught the last round of hiding on video:

Playing hide and seek is definitely a learned skill and Hal just ain’t there yet.


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