Please Find Me...

Random thought I had today: the fun of hide-and-seek is not in the hiding or the seeking. Crazy controversial, I know. Stay with me here...

Owning The Little Gym of Huntsville, I've often been amused at how much the children enjoy playing hide-and-seek in our gym. There really is no good place to hide. I would chuckle as toddlers would literally stand with their whole bodies exposed "hiding" with just their eyes covered by the bar. 

And it's not just the really young kids that enjoy playing it there. The kids 3-6 seem to request it all the time. And they run, hide behind one of the 5 or 6 mats big enough to get behind, and they laugh and laugh when they are "found." Then they want to play it again.

And last week on a field trip with my 5-year-old, I watched in amazement as she and her friend played hide-and-seek on the bus. Yes, on the bus. In the seat. They were literally just taking turns "hiding" by putting their head in their lap. The other would say, "found you" and they would laugh. And they are both average to above average on the intelligence scale I promise you. So why was this fun?

Well, I've figured it out. It's the finding and being found. Genius I know. Next I'm going to tackle the theory of everything. But for now, let's stick with my hide-and-seek revelation... 

Of course the kids at the gym like playing the game there. It is easy to be found. Who wants to sit in a good hiding spot unfound? In fact, when I gave it some thought, I remembered playing hide-and-seek as a kid in places where one really could "hide." If too much time went by, (and for me that was like 30 seconds) one would cough or peek out or in some way alert the "finder" to one's presence. We wanted to be found. We wanted to laugh and run back to base.

And if someone did manage to find a good place to hide, and managed to keep still and quiet, chances are good they got forgotten. The rest of us would start a new game or even go on to a new activity. And when this expert hider would finally reappear, I don't remember anyone ever congratulating them on what a good hider they were. We didn't care. That wasn't the point. Now, if we were playing Battleship and you could hide your boat, clearly you were a mastermind. If you hid yourself for too long though, well, that was strange. 

Somewhere along the way to adulthood, I forgot that. I'm ashamed to say I even recently told my staff at the gym to not play hide-and-seek so often because I saw no value in playing it in a place with no hiding spaces. As if the value in that game comes from some intellectual challenge of hiding or seeking. The kids like being found. They like laughing with their friends when they are found. What could be a more valuable experience? 

And they should experience that as often as they can as children. Because it becomes a lot easier for adults to hide well. And we do. And we sit for too long in hiding spaces silently gloating at our impressive skills. And then when we reappear, there is rarely  adoration or celebration. Only people who continued on with the game or moved on to another activity.

So I suggest we adults start organizing nice friendly games of hide-in-seek in big open spaces. Experience the joy again of being found. Cough like crazy or shake the tree till the finder comes. And then laugh. And then start the game all over. Who couldn't use a little finding?