Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are

I know that all kids love to hide, but I think the motive behind hiding is different between boys and girls. When I was a girl playing hide-and-seek, I recall wanting to find the best hiding spot so that no one would be able to find me. One time at a birthday party I hid so well that everyone forgot about me until I walked into the house many minutes after the game had ended and the cake had been cut.

Boys, in my experience in my male-dominated household (MDH), are a different story. It seems to me that boys like to hide for two reasons: 1. To sneak attack you as you walk by and 2. To cause you to have a heart attack from fear that they have gone missing.

The last time I took the boys to the mall with me, which I have not done again without reinforcements, they hid in the middle of one of those round, rotating clothes racks. They are smart and picked one displaying pants so I couldn’t even see their feet. As I ran around calling their names and threatening all manners of punishment if they did not come out, the giggling finally gave them away. It was a sale weekend so it took me a very, very long time to find them. They didn’t understand why I was so mad and why we left without buying anything.

Luke in particular can find the smallest of secret places and squeeze his body into them. We were shopping at Target one day, and I was keeping him close by my side because I really needed things and couldn’t leave without buying those things as I had done at the mall. I looked up to reach an item on the shelf, and when I looked down he was gone. He had managed to squeeze himself onto the bottom shelf behind the cleaning supplies without moving any of them an inch or making a sound. I was too impressed to be mad.

The time I lost him at Monkey Joe’s was another story. I don’t know if you have heard of Monkey Joe’s, but it is a fabulous place with huge inflatables. And the inflatables are not just your average bounce houses; there are enormous slides and obstacle courses. If you have one of these where you live and have a house full of boy energy, I highly recommend it.

Anyway, one of the inflatables has a giant monkey, the legs of which make the entrance to the obstacle course. Luke was heading into the obstacle course, and I told him I’d meet him on the other side at the bottom of the slide. When he never came down the slide, I went back to the front. He wasn’t at the front, so I figured he had made it to the back so I went back to the slide. On and on it went until I figured out he wasn’t coming through. I sent Jack in to look for him. Jack informed me that Luke was not in the obstacle course. Thus began the manhunt, with me running around in a panic and sending Jack into every obstacle course and bounce house to look for Luke (because if you’re an adult, especially one that suffers from claustrophobia, there is just no way you’re getting into every nook and cranny). Jack thought it was a game, but I was panic-stricken. John had gone to the car to get a water bottle, and when he came back he set off to look as well. I told the management to lock the place down, which they wouldn’t because they said no one could get out the front door without them noticing (I wanted to ask if they had ever witnessed the stealth with which boys operate, but didn’t want to waste time on that argument). Some nice father eventually found Luke hiding behind and underneath the giant monkey’s shoe. I gave Luke a big hug and then went immediately to the bathroom and cried.

Given my boys’ history of hiding, I should have known better. But, as a product of the Kirby bloodline, I began to think and imagine the worst possible scenario. I think I learned my lesson. I know my boys, and my boys love to hide. I just have to improve my seeking skills so I will save myself a lot of premature gray hairs and wrinkles when they hide in crowded public places in the future.

Now that I fully understand their penchant for hiding, I have learned to embrace it and use it to my advantage. For example, I needed to buy a new desk for my office over the weekend. When John and I were looking at desks and trying to decide what we could get and what would fit in the car, the boys were being their usual cooperative selves by running around the store like maniacs. I spotted a nice little cranny under a desk and pointed it out to them. While we paid and got the desk loaded, they sat in their secret hiding spot feeling as if they were getting away with something.


Luke can almost completely disappear when he wants to.




Fun at Monkey Joe's, before the incident.

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More fun, after the incident.

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