Three Kid Circus : Hide and Seek

Monday, September 20, 2004

Hide and Seek

My children do not realize how many grey hairs they cause me to sprout on a daily basis. If not for sweet Feria lovin', I would be the Bride of Frankenstein. Seriously.

I mean, I'm delighted to have spirited chill'en. Three tra-la-la spirited, bright, gifted children. I'm sure that the world is full of highly successful adults who are former spirited children. With all the whiz-banging and rollicking, joyous spirits around here, I'm thinking Nobel Freaking Prize. Next to an Oscar and a Pulitzer. On my freaking mantel.

Of course, I still have to raise 'em up right and all. So far, I seem to be able to keep them stimulated and challenged, by simply leaving objects I will need in the future in accessible areas. Never mind the educational toys and puzzles I provide. They have NOTHING on playing hide and seek.

"How sweet and wholesome!" I know you're thinking it. But no. Les Enfants Terribles of the Circus enjoy swiping car keys, wallets, jewelry, bills... and then relocating them to child-selected safehouses. The FBI has nothing on my yahoos when it comes to fake IDs and relocating to small town Nebraska.

Their penchant for subterfuge started years ago, when my oldest was just over 2. I left my diamond ring on the bedside table. When I returned for it, she covered her mouth with her hand and giggled gleefully.

"Where is my ring?" I asked. "Bookshelf!" A quick inspection of the bookshelf turns up nada. "Where is my ring?" I try again. "Window!" No.
"WHERE is my ring?" I demand. She is getting really excited now, bouncing on her toes and tee heeing away. "Flush. Potty. Bye-bye!" I continue questioning her, and she changes her answer with each round. Three months later it turned up against the baseboards behind our bed. So why? Why all the drama?

My son has picked up the torch, and frequently removes my wallet from my purse in the car while I am unloading or loading things. When I get within viewing range, he will casually flip it under the seat or into the rear of the van. I tear the vehicle apart, while my son looks concerned and says "I think you dropped it at the school," or "I saw it on the sidewalk, Mommy." When it turns up behind his carseat? "Silly Mommy. When did you put it there?" Can you SEE the grey hair sprouting? I think I can actually hear it. It makes little screaming noises.

Which brings me around to this morning. Car keys. Gone. "Where are the keys?" I just start off at a growl now. Kills the buildup a bit, but you know, it's an art - witty repartee' and sometimes a mama just doesn't have time for that nonsense. "Aaah!" offers my son.

"Keys!" I say, emphatically. "Daddy has keys..."ventures the boy. He's quaking under the Eye Of Enraged Mother, but it's a faux-quake. He cowers so well that we have nicknamed him Gollum. "Please. Get. Up. We. Need. To. GO." I try again. Lamaze breathing hee hee hee hoo hoo hoo. At this point he bursts into noisy, cartoonish wailing, complete with thrown back head, gaping mouth and tears that project outwards from his eye sockets in visible dotted lines. "Waaaaaaaaah!"

Every time I ask, I get a different answer, ranging from stuffed in the fireplace to eaten by the dog. None of them lead to the keys. Late this evening, I finally found them. In the drawer of our entertainment center, behind all the DVDs. Because, yes, okay. That makes sense. TO A FREAKO.

The punishment for this crime? I take away favorite toys, assign chores, have VERY. EARNEST. heart to heart talks with my children about the VERY. BAD. things that could happen if I needed the missing items RIGHT THAT MINUTE. They are largely unmoved. They nod, they apologize, the boy even busts out a "Mommy, please FORGIVE me waaaah!" but then a few days pass and those little fingers start itching again.

I close my eyes and imagine myself humming serenely while I dust the Nobel Freakin' Prize and put a spit-shine on the Oscar, while the internationally televised thank you speech rings in my ears: "And to my mother, who lost her looks and her sanity because of me, but never managed to crush my spirit..."