At Family Resources’ First Friday Outdoor Adventure Play Shoppe this week, we began playing hide and go seek. The children ranged in age from fifteen months through four-years-old. I was the first one to find a secret spot, as all the children hid their eyes. When the okay sign was given, the children took off running.
They flew right past me at first, but on the second go round, the shrieks and screams of pure excitement and joy announced to all that Miss Fran had been found.
Then it was someone else’s turn. That child ran off while the rest of us covered our eyes. Guess where she hid? In the very same place as I had. The shrieks and screams of excitement were just as loud and happy for each succeeding child who chose to hide – every one in the exact same place.
I realized then that for these children, it didn’t occur to them to choose a different place, a trickier place, a more-of-a-surprise place. What they were seeking was the sure joy, fun, satisfaction (and perhaps, relief) of being found, reunited, welcomed back into the group. As for the seekers, it was the pure thrill of finding their friend and, through this playful game, reinforcing their own budding knowledge and awareness that out- of- sight does not mean permanently gone.
A dad who participates and volunteers a lot for Family Resources and I were on a shopping trip to Menards one day- our mission to buy hooks and screws and hardware necessary for a project we were working on. This dad had his five year old son with him who periodically slipped down an aisle or behind a shelf where he was out of sight. What this very knowing dad did to get his child back was to call his name and say, “Find me”. And faster than a cat can blink his eye, his son reappeared, grinning and totally pleased with himself, to have so successfully found his dad. What a masterful way to handle this typically negative situation by turning it into not only a simple game but an unspoken “given” that Dad would be there for him to find and glad to see him every time.
I guess it is all about knowing that we are not alone – even when we are and that it is safe and okay for us to be alone. That the people whom we love and trust are still there. So, when your child is reuniting, whether it is after a long day at child care, a morning at preschool, an overnight spent with grandparents, an afternoon nap, a high schooler arriving home just in time for dinner, an older child calling from long distance on the phone, take advantage of this golden opportunity. As many times as possible, celebrate this reunion, this being “found”, this welcome back – with genuine enthusiasm and joy. You will never regret it!