• Paula Tiberius

Not Even For A Second

There are a lot of things in life that we do out of obligation, like returning Facebook messages from people who really should have remained eighth grade memories, or eating kale. My daughter has no knowledge of this concept of obligation.

Richard and Violet and I played hide and seek for the first time, and it was one of those precious moments where you’re so conscious of how precious it is, you’re literally cupping your hand over your mouth and wincing with active awareness.

Richard went to hide, and Violet and I went to look for him, her little hand in mine and her eyes filled with wonder.

“Nope! He’s not in the kitchen! Where could he be?” My voice is all Sesame Street. We head to the bathroom where I quickly realize Richard is behind the shower curtain, only because we never half-close the shower curtain. Violet peeks in.

“Daddy?” No answer. “Not in here Mommy!” She starts to pull me out and I hesitate, not wanting to scour the whole house unnecessarily.

“Are you sure? Did you check the tub?”

“Yes, I checked the tub.”

At this point Richard mercifully made a shuffling sound which sent Violet into an eruption of surprise and delight as she ripped open the curtain and grinned at him. “Daddy!!!!”

Then I hid and Richard took her to find me. Hilarity ensued.

The next logical step was for Violet to hide. We decided that I would hide with her.  We went into the bedroom and I pointed to the closet.

“Let’s go in there!” I pulled her into the closet just as Richard ended his comically loud countdown. Sliding the door shut, the wedge of light from the room disappeared and as it did I looked down and saw a cloud pass over Violet’s face. Instantly her little hand came out and slid the door back open. “No, honey,” I whispered. “We have to keep it closed or Daddy will find us!”

I started to close the door again and she looked up at me with terror in her eyes. The corners of her mouth pulled down as far as they could go.

“Don’t be scared. I’m right here,” I whispered.

The little hand shot out again, the door sliding open loudly.

“I don’t like the closet!” Violet popped out just as Daddy was coming around the corner.

“There you are!” Richard scooped her up with a big laugh, attempting to make this ending as fun as the last two. But her face was sour, even as she dangled upside down.

“Daddy I don’t like the closet!”

She really didn’t like it in that closet. And there was absolutely nothing stopping her from declaring her opinion immediately and acting on it directly. She wasn’t going to stand in that goddamn closet. Not even for a second.

Later we were out for ice cream and I thought man, I wish I had those instincts. I would save so much time if I were completely honest with myself and those around me. Annoying small talk in the bank line up? No problem, I would just channel my inner Violet and say what she would say: “No talking!” Or faced with an unwanted work party invitation, my reply could simply be, “I don’t like you.”

Facebook ‘friend?’ Wouldn’t stand a chance! Kale? Flung to the floor where it belongs! It’s genius! I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of this before.

Why do I have to suppress my desires to manage the flow of other people’s agendas? Imagine a whole society suddenly reverting to the mindset of a two and a half year old. Ready or not, here we come!

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