Hide and/or Seek

This is the last of my stories about babysitting Christopher, my friend’s 5-year old.  It is also my favorite.

One evening, after having a particularly tiring day at work, I was watching Christopher, and he decided we were going to play hide-and-seek.  All I wanted to do was sit and read the paper, but because Christopher is so entertaining, and so cute, I knuckled under.  Christopher then began to explain the rules of the game to me.

Christopher decided he was going to hide.  So he proceeded to tell me to close my eyes and count to a hundred.  (Sometimes it was a million, sometimes 48.  Christopher didn’t care.)  It didn’t matter, because once Christopher was hidden, he would yell out “Ready or not, here I come!”, which was my signal to stop counting and come find him.

Now of course, by announcing that he was ready (or not), he immediately revealed his hiding place.  So I would wander around the house, looking places I knew he was not, and clearly doing play-by-play on my search.

“Is he behind the drapes?  Nope, he’s not behind the drapes.”

“Is he under the table?  Nope, he’s not under the table.”

“Is he under the sink?  There he is, under the sink!”

Christopher would be thrilled, and want to play again.

After a couple rounds, I got tired of this, and began to realize that I didn’t really have to look that hard.  So this time, when he went to hide, I sat, reading the paper and counting out loud, until from under his parents’ bed I hear, “Ready or not, here I come!”

So I stopped counting, continued reading my paper, and occasionally announced from my seat:

“Is he behind the drapes?  Nope, he’s not behind the drapes.”

” Is he in the sugar bowl?  Nope, he’s not in the sugar bowl.”  (This elicits giggling from under the bed.)

“Is he hanging from the ceiling fan?  Nope, he’s not hanging from the ceiling fan.”  (More giggles.)

“Is he in the fireplace?  There he is!  He’s in the fireplace!”

From under the bed, I hear, “No, I’m not!”, in a slightly questioning tone, like he’s not sure.

“Oh, then I’ll keep looking.  Is he behind the couch?  Nope, he’s not behind the couch.  Is he on the coffee table?  Nope, he’s not on the coffee table.  Is he inside the TV?  There he is!  He’s inside the TV!”

“No, I’m not?”

“Are you sure?  I’m pretty sure he’s inside the TV.”

From out of the bedroom, Christopher comes storming out, with that look on his face.  He has not picked up on the fact that I’m still sitting in the chair reading the paper.  He stalks right up to me, and in the firmest tone a 5-year old can muster, offers this constructive criticism:

“Christophers are always real!”

His little brain, searching for answers to how hide-and-seek had gone so horribly wrong, had come to the conclusion that I was inadvertently finding imaginary children, and was confused.  He helpfully pointed out that those phantom children weren’t him, because he, and the rest of his Christopherian ilk, were all real.

Since that day, I often ponder this existential concept.  Actor Christopher Lee, explorer Christopher Columbus, former Secretary of State Warren Christopher, even Christopher Robin from the Winnie-the-Pooh stories.  All of them are, in fact, real.  It’s not an exhaustive review, but I think he may have been on to something.

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