We struck gold with our gifts for granddaughter Zadie. Each day of our seven days together, she’s been working on her magic tricks from the kit I bought, playing with her 20Q electronic toy, filling in her “Book About Me,” painting with water colors my wife gave her and playing, alongside brother Malik, with the Magna Tiles. It’s so satisfying to search for gifts that fit someone’s interests or introduce new ones or help them practice existing ones and find that they hit the mark. I’ve loved playing all of the above with her, alongside the usual standards of playing cards, reading books, telling stories, singing songs.
But I have to admit that besides the hours at the ocean’s edge, on of the best moments was this afternoon when our misty, moisty house rental up a few thousand feet in the town of Volcano, Hawaii, graced us with a mid-day few hours of actual sunshine and we all sat on a back porch listening to birds and chatting. And then, arising spontaneously from Zadie going indoors for a moment and asking her aunt to save her seat and me sneaking over to her chair and her catching me, came a good old-fashioned game of hide-and-seek. When discovered, the goal was to race back to the chair to see who could get there first. Or race to the chair before being discovered. Malik joined in the fun and we went at it for some 30 minutes straight, this old guy playing a game he used to play some 60 years earlier and having exactly as much fun.
The song “The Best Things in Life Are Free” comes to mind and ain’t that the truth! It’s fine to shop occasionally in stores and ride on the coattails of some game someone else invented or story they wrote or music they recorded, but there are few things more pleasurable than creating one’s own entertainment with the simple tools of time, intention and imagination. An endangered series in today’s preprogrammed childhood—and adulthood.
Our last night in Hawaii, the kids asleep, the adults are going to play— well, Pictionary. But if it was light outside, maybe we would have tried Hide and Seek.