The Hess Report


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Well Done, Grasshoppers 

When your kids are little, you play along with their silly games. If you have kids, you've done it, and if you don't have them yourself, then at least you've seen it done. The two year old playing hide and seek, "hiding" by putting their head under the couch while their butt sticks up in the air.

"Where are you?" coos the parent. "I can't find my little bubby-wubby."

Right. Been there.

As your kids age, though, you humor them less and less, burdened by the knowledge that very soon they will encounter other people significantly more likely to just say "Of course I see you, idiot. Your ass is sticking out." So, you need to take them from "everything you earnestly try to do is awesome" to a true merit-based evaluation of their efforts in a somewhat compassionate fashion. But the great, the wished-for outcome is the day where you realize that not only have you done your job well, but that they have bested you in one realm or another.

Last night, Maddie called me downstairs.

"Dad, have you seen Lucy?"

She's a pretty good actor, but I could tell it was a setup. Being a natural actor myself (cf. "liar"), I answered as though I didn't think it was a setup.

"No. I thought she was down there with you."

"She was, but she's gone. Will you come down and take a look for her?"

"Uh... okay."

Down the stairs, past the fireplace and into the living room. Maddie's laying on a quilt on the floor. Lucy is obviously hidden under the quilt. Hmm. It's really not the best effort, but not horribly bad. Someone with 20/400 vision and no glasses would probably be fooled. At this age, I rarely indulge them at this sort of weak turnout. However, they'll only continue to try these sorts of shenanigans for a sadly brief span of time in the grand scheme of the rest of my life, so I say:

"Where is she? If you need her so much, why are you just laying on the floor?"

Then, Lucy pops out from under the blanket. Surprise!

"Ha!" I say. "You got me."

"Really?"

"Yeah, really."

Laughter. Ooooo. They got the old man. Back upstairs.

A few minutes later, Lucy calls up.

"Dad, have you seen Maddie?"

Right.

"No. I suppose I should come and look for her?"

"Uh... yeah."

Down the stairs I go again. I wondering if they're going for the "obvious" routine, seeing how ridiculously poorly they can hide before I'll give it up. And yes, there's the full blanket on the floor again, Lucy standing at one end. As I round the fireplace Lucy squeals "Maddie!" with malicious glee and launches herself into the air, preparing to completely pancake her sister under the blanket. The impact would be... significant.

"Lucy!" I shout, but I'm not close enough to stop her from crashing down, hard.

She lands on the pillows that were under the blankets.

"HA!" Maddie shouts from the music room, behind me.

"HA!" Lucy laughs from the floor.

"You two," I say, "are... fart knockers."

Laughter. Happiness.

They really got me. Lucy timed it perfectly -- I had only a fraction of a second to see the blanket before she was in the air. Long enough to register that the blanket wasn't empty, not too brief a span to think it through. Absolutely perfect.

I'm so proud.

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