Like many children, Emma loves nothing more than a rousing game of Hide and Seek. Except Emma doesn’t like to look for anyone, she just wants to be the one to hide, always. She also only likes to hide in one place.
Which kind of defeats the whole purpose of the game. Because not only is she utterly predictable, she’s also really hard to miss. Never-the-less, we do our best to play the part of surprised “seeker”.
“Hmm, I wonder where Emma is? Let’s see… could she be in here?” Dramatic throwing open of various closet doors and curtains, followed by, “No. Not in here. I wonder where she could be hiding?!” There’s a great deal of crouching down, looking under chairs, the bed, her desk, while muttering, “Gosh, I can’t imagine where she could be!”
All of this is done while Emma variously – sings, hums, makes loud breathing noises or whispers to herself , “No, not going to find Emma under the mattress!”
That she is also squirming around makes her hard to miss, still we do our best to play the part given us. Eventually if we are taking a very long time to “find” her, she’ll give us a little help.
By yanking off the fitted sheet to reveal herself and yelling, “There she is!”
In the theatre world, this would be called stealing lines, hogging the stage or any number of disparaging phrases. But to Emma she’s simply trying to help us out and we appreciate it.
“Oh! There you are,” we shout before grabbing a limb and tickling her mercilessly.
“Let go! Let go, let go, let go!” Emma squeals.
“No, no, no. I’m not going to let go. I’m going to tickle you and tickle you and tickle you..”
The other day while in the midst of just such a moment, Nic appeared in the doorway to Emma’s bedroom, “What are you guys doing?”
“We’re playing hide and seek, want to play?” I asked.
“Yeah okay,” Nic agreed, somewhat reluctantly as he knew Emma would only want to hide underneath her mattress again.
“Should I count or do you guys want to find me?” I asked.
“You and Nicky hide?” Emma said. Meaning she wanted to hide with Nic.
But I pretended not to understand as every interaction can be an opportunity to teach (we’re trying to help Emma with her pronoun reversal problems), “Oh okay. So you’re going to find me and Nic?”
“NO! Mommy find. Emma and Nic hide!”
“Emma you have to say, Nic and I are going to hide.” Nic took her finger and made her point to herself, “Me, Emma. You say me,” then he looked up at me with an expression of mild exasperation. “No wait, that’s not right.”
I nodded my head. “It’s okay, Nic. You’re doing great.”
“Okay, okay,” Nic said, starting over again. “Em, you have to say I. I’m going to hide with Nic or Nic and I are going to hide.”
At this point Emma had lost all interest and was trying to get one of her favorite youtube videos up on her computer.
“Come on Em. One last game,” I encouraged.
“Five minutes then computer,” Emma said.
“Yes. One, two, three, four, five…”
For more on Emma’s journey through a childhood of autism and an interview with her older brother Nic, go to: www.EmmasHopeBook.com