Playing Hide and Seek

 “Where ARE you Mummy?” I hear a frustrated little voice. My hiding spot crouched behind the park bench is pitiful. But he can’t see me. In his worry he is just spinning around and missed that I stood up. Ruining the game, maybe but if your child is highly anxious like mine, that rise in the voice tells you it’s time to jump up and wave. Why does anyone play hide and seek?

I read parenting advice once that hide and seek is a good game to play to help with separation anxiety. Even peek-a-boo is good because it’s a fun way to reassure your child that you will always come back.

But if your child hides themselves then says, “I’m here, Mummy” straight away and gets very worried they can’t see you, then maybe it’s not the game for them. We hide toy cars and have even done an Easter Egg Hunt, so he doesn’t miss out. But hide and seek, it’s a bit too scary for us.

I started to think about this in the park as we didn’t quite manage to play hide and seek again. It led me to think about what my main character is hiding from. I wrote a scene in which she is playing hide and seek from the main antagonist. In it she seems to be like a child. I don’t know if this scene will make it in the novel. The reveal that the person hiding isn’t a child, but the main character could only really fit at the beginning. After that, you would know who it is. So maybe this is just a short story. Or playing with an idea.

Inspiration really can strike anywhere. When I am out and about with my son and he gets upset, I can’t really drag out the notebook and pen so I make a few notes on my phone hoping that the muse will stay with me until late at night when the house is quiet and I can play.

I think about the minutiae of my life often. Sometimes when I am irritated with something petty I try and chant to myself “Use this.” I don’t mean writing down the ins and out of every silly inconvenience that ruined my day for five minutes, but how it made me respond.

Was it a bad day? Or just a bad five minutes?

Like earlier, a man was blasting his music out loud on the top floor of the bus, no regard for the other passengers and not responding to my plea to turn it down. I mean sure, he may end up in a story, but how I interpreted it, how it made me feel at that moment is more important to understand. In a small way it made me feel uncomfortable in my neighbourhood. It highlighted unreasonableness of people if you live in a place without community. It is part of a bigger picture of what London can be like. Though there are far worse things to happen, of course, using the small things that happen to represent so much more, isn’t that what creating art is about?

So actually, maybe this is the hide and seek I often play in my life. Hiding the emotional reaction, holding things in to seem like a reasonable adult. Seeking instead to learn something from interactions and my reactions and, of course, trying to write as much of that down as possible.

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