explorations of mindful fatherhood

From My Hidey Hole


Hide-and-Seek-GameHide-and-seek has always been my favorite game.  And this weekend, hide-and-seek took on new meaning for me, when I found a place for myself, stuffed away in my hidey hole.

I loved hide-and-seek as a child.  There’s a thrill in hiding yourself away, attempting invisibility.  I remember the giddy pleasure I’d feel tucked away under some bed, behind some curtain, in some closet, waiting and listening.  Waiting to discover who would find me and how quickly.  A rush of adrenaline would wash over me when my seeker came near.  The ultimate excitement was when the seeker came so close to me that I could sense her presence, feel her brush along the coats that hid me or knock into the bed under which I lay, and yet she’d move away, searching somewhere else instead. I’d revel in the joy that even in the closest of contact, I could go unseen.  But even the act of getting found was a thrill; shocked, exuberant, and yet slightly disappointed all at once.  And then I got to do it all over again.

I remember when my son became old enough for more purposeful games.  Games with rules and sequences.  When he was a toddler, it was all about make-believe, and I had pretended to be a cat so many times that I thought I’d grown whiskers.  So when we started playing games like hide-and-seek, I was relieved.  Our first games were the simplest, with him often hiding in the same place he’d found me or retreating to his favorite spot behind the love-seat.  But as time went by, our games continued evolving, as he got better or I presented him more challenges.  And yet, games were not all giddy glee.  There would be times when I’d secretly bring a magazine or iPad with me and read while “counting” in the bathroom, or scan my screen from some darkened spot under the bed.  It felt necessary to do “something” while waiting to seek or be sought.

This weekend, while his mom was out kicking butt at Crossfit, he and I spent the morning playing hide-and-seek. This time, however, I abandoned my Entertainment Weekly and simply hid.  I found a few awesome spots (under the dirty laundry in the bathtub, standing twisted behind the coat rack). They were so good that he couldn’t find me for the longest time.  I experienced an amazing arc of thought and emotion during it all.  Hid away, I progressively becoming more excited as he walked past me several times, and then giddy to the point of almost bursting with laughter.  Then, I settled into my hiding spot, assuming that if he hadn’t found me by then, I’d be tucked away for the long haul.

Hidden away, I amazingly settled into my body and my mind.  Without anything to “do” my mind drifted to writing, imagining clever posts or wild story lines.   This is something I imagine regularly, but always with the competing distraction of driving, or work, or pending sleep.  But I was stuck.  Stuck without being able to move, without being able to divert myself.  And then a warm calm rushed over me.  I realized that I never have a chance to just stay put and think.  Even with solitary meditation, there’s that fidgety desire to give up, to get up, to “do” something else.   But not in hide-and-seek.  I had to stay there, or I’d ruin the game.  And that was when I was able to surrender.  Surrender to myself and just sit, tucked away, with only me.

It was the best game of hide-and-seek ever. It was just further proof of why “just doing it” is so important.  Just being in the moment, and experiencing it for what it is.  In parenting, I find that I try multitasking too frequently.  This weekend hide-and-seek taught me a valuable lesson about settling into the moment, and simply being there.


Author: CJ Nigh

I am an East Coast writer with a Midwestern soul. Undead Dad is a blog about mindful fatherhood in the deadening age of hyper-technology and over-work. I also write science fiction for young adults.

20 thoughts on “From My Hidey Hole

  1. Great post, and I couldn’t agree more regarding the wonder and amazement that is Hide and Seek. So many great memories of playing hide and seek as a kid. It was usually that mutual ground where my brother and I could connect and have fun together(he’s six years older).

    As a dad, you re-discover the absolute joy and excitement of hide and seek when you play with your own kids, and I totally get that reference of settling into your body and mind. As I waited under a pile of clothes in our closet it felt like I could stay there for hours and that would’ve been fine. It’s complete blissful solitude, while in the midst of playing. There’s no other feeling like it.

    • Thanks for the comment jhubner! Yes, our experiences are exactly the same. One of the best parts of fatherhood is getting the chance to re-experience the joyful abandon of fatherhood. You’re right, there’s no other feeling like it.

  2. What a lovely tribute to the joy of play! I will remember that each time I put on my “space socks” to settle down with my godchildren for the adventure to beat all adventures.

  3. Absolutely love hide and seek! It’s like reliving childhood all over again… Also tag your it!!! 🙂

    • Combined, they make the best game in the world: Ghosts in the Graveyard. Ever hear of it? Played outside at night, where you have to make it around the outside of the house while your friends “ghosts” hide in the backyard and come out, trying to catch and tag you before you make it to the front door. Terrifyingly awesome!

  4. My daughter enjoys playing hide and seek. Unfortunately, she hasn’t quite mastered the concept yet. As soon as I start looking for her, she loudly announces where she is, and gets upset if I don’t immediately come find her.

  5. Remember kick-the-can? It was my favorite game as a youngster. I taught it to my grandchildren and before the day was over all the neighborhood children had joined in.

  6. Loved this post! It’s amazing how naturally you linked hide-and-seek to the principle of being with oneself. Thoroughly enjoyed it, thanks!

  7. I am fairly convinced my siblings used to pretend not to be able to find me so they could go off an do other things (I am by far the youngest.) My mum once found me asleep in the laundry basket about three hours after we had started playing….

  8. I need constant reminders to be in the moment–often guilty of the very multi-tasking you describe.
    Thanks for today’s reminder!

  9. I completely agree that every time I let go and allow myself to really be in the moment and stop multi-tasking I enjoy “playing” more. It’s when I have 3 other things in my head, a phone buzzing and my computer glowing and begging me to tap at it that playing feels less like fun. I make myself unplug and PLAY as much as I can these days. If I don’t play with them now I worry the days will go by and I will miss it. The rest of it can wait.

  10. Love it! Hide and Seek mindfulness! My eldest has just started enjoying hiding from imaginary monsters. Sometimes she lets me hide under a blanket. And it’s at these times that i have, on a couple of occasions, started to drift off into a beautiful, spontaneous sleep. It doesn’t last long before she is poking my ears though, pleading with me to be the monster and bringing me out of my reverie. Can’t wait for the proper hide and seek to begin.

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