“Where have you been?” I’m asked by someone who doesn’t actually care where I’ve been. Even at my young age I know it actually means, “I’ve been here for minutes for someone to arrive to take care of this kid.” And with that the mother of my niece is gone.
Don’t get me wrong, my niece is an awesome kid but I have my own shit to do and watching her until I can ‘Where have you been?’ someone else wasn’t in my plans. But, timing being what it is, I’m stuck.
I give her a snack (maybe she’ll get full and fall asleep), I show her a magic trick (I had to learn magic to teach her something that would cause her to go off to ‘learn’ it so I could leave), I sit her in front of the TV (but, unlike most people, she has to have someone with her while she watches TV). So I accept my fate and sit there knowing I have two hours before I have to hit the road and still have to do a paper for school.
I attempt to write the paper on the couch but my niece decides she needs to discuss whatever dumb ass cartoon we’re watching as if it’s a discussion group on the fine art of anvil dropping. The cartoon ends and a non-animated program comes on which causes her disdain. This was a time long before 24 hour a day cartoon networks and she has no desire to watch whatever is on our thirty cable channels. Which amazed me. With thirty channels you surely must be able to find something. Who could ever need any more than thirty channels to find something to watch?
The world sure has changed. And also stayed the same because, just last night, I couldn’t find one fucking thing to watch on my five hundred and sixty three channels.
“Let’s play hide and seek.” She demands. I know it doesn’t sound like a demand but when a five year old tells a fifteen year old to play hide and seek the fifteen year old, if they are smart, they don’t argue. If they do soon the red-faced, breath holding beast will rear it’s ugly head and, after the storm, you’ll be playing hide and seek.
In the back of my mind I still know I have to get this paper in. I have no idea when someone will enter the house so I will be able to pawn, I mean, politely ask if they would do me a solid and watch the kid while I tend to my oh so important schoolwork.
“You hide first.”
Shit. It’s game time. I have two lines of reason at this moment. I can 1) grab my schoolwork and hide where she’d never find me (outside the house is a good option but, honestly, anywhere is fine. She really sucks at this game) or 2) just play the damn game because I know that, after five minutes, if she doesn’t find me she’ll just throw a fit and I’ll have to come out of hiding to soothe her shitty game skills mind.
I hide making sure to leave an arm or leg or head or entire body visible behind my hiding place because, as stated earlier, she sucks at this game. So, amazingly, she finds me and is so thrilled at her amazing skill level. Now it’s her time to hide. And here is when the game gets tricky. As stated thirty words earlier, she sucks at this game and that fact extends to her hiding. The problem is, just like her seeking skill, she is of the delusion that she is a skilled marksman. A bounty hunter of renown skill.
So, because I’ve sat in a living room chair and said, “There you are behind the lamp.” soon after I finished counting to 100 (leaving out all the numbers between 30 and 80 because 1) she’s not a great mathematician and 2) she’s already hiding) I know I have to wander around the entire house to ‘find’ her. After five minutes of wandering around the house saying,
“Where is she? She’s the greatest hider of the modern age?” Because I know I have to even though she’s hiding behind a kitchen chair and is clearly visible through the slats but she thinks she can’t be seen because her eyes are closed. I stumble upon her (“I never would have found you if you didn’t blink!)”and we do all this shit all over (“Yea!” I cheer dejectedly).
When it’s her time she hides in a closet. How do I know when I’m just on fifteen in my count? Because she makes the equivalent amount of noise of a chainsaw being thrown into a closet. During my count I have an idea. While still counting I go to my room and get my tape recorder.
“100.” I say at number twenty-seven.
I walk around the house talking and recording. After about five or six minutes of this I walk into the room where she is. I keep talking walking around the room. I even open the closet door but still can’t find her. How can I not find her? Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe she is great even though she’s giggling so much the pile of shoes she’s under is quaking. She thinks I’m an idiot at this game. That is not conjecture. I know because she tells me after we’re done.
I close the closet door, rewind the tape and push play. By this time I’ve probably recorded ten minutes of walking around talk so that buys me some time to gather my papers to sit in the hiding room to get my homework done. Every ten minutes or so I’d have to stop and do some live chatter while the tape rewound but, about an hour later, I was done with my homework, someone else had come into the house and I was declared the worst hide and seek player of all time.
Opinions vary, little one, opinions vary.