“Hey, wanna play hide and seek?” is an odd question to ask a random adult in Barnes and Noble, but that didn’t stop four-year-old Olivia.
I was sitting there, reading books with my husband, when this Olivia kid came and sat next to me. She had bobbed brown hair and huge blue eyes. She wanted to know about my book, so I told her about it. Then I asked her about her book. Then, well…let me break it down for you:
Olivia: I love reading so much.
Hazel: Good! Reading is really good for you.
O: I can’t actually read, obviously. I look at lots of pictures. Wait! I can read some words. I can read “sam” and “top” and “tip.”
H: Wow, that’s great!
*we awkwardly both go back to reading for about three seconds*
O: Hey, do you wanna play hide and seek?
H: Ummm…we’re in a Barnes and Noble. You can’t play hide and seek in a Barnes and Noble.
O: Sure you can! You could hide behind that column, you could hide behind the trash can, you could hide under that chair…
H: Right, okay, yes. I understand that you CAN play hide and seek here, but it’s just that…ummm…people don’t.
O: We could.
H: Right. Uh….well…
At this point I looked at my husband, and he looked back at me like, “Are you seriously going to turn down little four-year-old Olivia?” I looked around for this kid’s parents, and I saw a haggard lady who looked like her grandma. She gave me a quasi-apologetic look that seemed to say, “Sorry…but at least she’s not bugging me for five minutes.”
So I played hide and seek with the kid.
I’m not joking.
She hid first (behind a display of stuffed animals), and then it was my turn. I asked how high she was going to count, and she said, “I can count all the way to TWENTY!” Whoa. Dream big. I’ll have time to hide in Madagascar with that kind of head start. I hid behind a case of books, but she said my coat gave me away.
Then it was her turn to hide. I said I would count again, but she turned to my husband and said, “I want HIM to count!” Picky picky. Andy asked how high he should count, and she said twenty. He looked sad and said, “But what if I’m not as smart as you? What if I can’t count to twenty?” Olivia channeled some major teenage sass, put her hand on her hip and said, “Seeeeriously?” in a way that clearly meant, “I know you can count to twenty. This is a very serious game of BN hide and seek. We don’t mess around.”
He backed off and said okay, that he would count to twenty. Then he did, but only after pretending not to know which number came next a couple of times. And then I couldn’t find her! Seriously! I was thinking, “Oh crap. I lost a kid. I lost a kid. This is very bad.” Finally I looked at the old grandma lady. She pointed under a low kids’ table, and I found Olivia there. Phewf!
After that, it was (thankfully) time for Andy and I to meet our friends for dinner. We laughed so hard all the way out of the store. I’m sure I looked like a total idiot, but I don’t care. I think life is a little too serious sometimes; it is probably good to get dragged into an involuntary game once in a while.