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.