Wednesday, September 23, 2009

On hiding

Though the evenings, with their low-slung suns and softening shadows, approach something like perfection, Q and The Boy wanted to be inside to hide things. We'd each take turns concealing something (one of many stuffed animals, a wallet, a butterfly clip) in their room while the other two waited in the kitchen eating chips. (Okay, so the chips were my idea.) The two would then hunt for whatever it was, while the hider coached the lookers with "warmer" or "colder." We did this for nearly an hour and a half, and would have kept going if it weren't for the calling beds.

Why do children love to hide?

For fun, I asked Q why she liked this game, and, in true Q fashion, she said that she really didn't find it that fun after all.* The Boy, too busy for the question, just offered an "I don't know" as an explanation.

But Q did say that she liked to hide herself, and I think that answer reveals a lot. It's not the hiding itself that makes the game so enjoyable — after all, it's a persistent nightmare that you'll hide so well that no one will ever find you. Instead, whether hiding themselves or their things, I think it's the knowing something that others don't. Q really starts to giggle when I come near her or to what she's hidden, as if to say "How can he not see me? He's so close but doesn't know that I'm right here."

Perhaps, then, it's that edge between knowing and not knowing — between hidden and found — that triggers the delight. Where did that delight go? When does hiding turn into wanting to disappear?

*Note: I do not, not for one second, believe this.


teahouse said...

I think this has something to do with why little kids like to play "peek-a-boo." The idea that you can conceal something from someone else, and then surprise them with it, seems to be universally appealing to people in general.

Kind of like why we like to wrap presents, and why we get such pleasure out of trying to guess what they are, and then opening the paper to reveal them!

teahouse said...

Hey, I love the new photo at the top with the closeup of the pumpkin! You are so artistic, RM.