Nick was born to hide. When he was months old, he’d pull his towel over his head on the changing table after a bath.
“Where’s Nick? Nora have you seen Nick?” I’d say. “I’ve lost him again.”
Under the towel, Nick would quake with laughter.
The game of Invisible started when Nick was about four. We were playing hide-and-seek outside the house. The sun was setting, and Nick was such a master of disappearing that it felt dangerous to let him out of my sight. During the day, fine. But not in the dark.
I could see myself coming through the front door without him and telling Nora, “Well, he’s out there somewhere.”
“Nick,” I said, “No more hide-and seek. We’ll have to play something else.”
A NEW GAME
An idea landed on my brow.
“I tell you what,” I said. “You don’t need to hide. Why don’t you just become invisible?”
He was standing next to me. I began to feel around for him.
“I know he’s around here somewhere,” I said.
Nick shrieked as my hand brushed his hair.
He evaded me for half an hour. It was like blind man’s buff, only I could see. I just couldn’t seem to see Nick. The closer he got to me, the more fun he had. Which suited us both fine.
We played the next day, and the next, and Nick introduced the game to his friends. We’ve been playing ever since. There’s no limit to the number of players, but apparently, a grown-up always has to be “it.”
Invisible doesn’t work with very small toddlers. Rather, it works differently. It provokes arguments.
“Nick’s right here!” a two year old once told me.
“But I can’t see him,” I said.
“No! He’s right here!”
Through experience and attention, I’ve discovered some clues that will help you find your children.
You don’t have to be quick. In fact, if you’re slow, they’ll come to you.
Patience. You can hear them. You can hear their footsteps. You can hear their breathing. You can feel the air tremble as they move. You can see their footprints. You can watch the depressions their toes make in the grass.
So many ways to appreciate them.
When all else fails, use your sense of smell. There’s a boy smell and a girl smell. There’s even a Nick smell, although it’s not always reliable.
Take a deep breath. Hold it.
The moment of recognition comes just before you exhale.
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