Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Finding Game

When I came back to the U.S. after living overseas for seven years, my son James was four. We stayed in a hotel while we looked for a new home. James was disoriented and upset by the move. His autism made it even more challenging for him. I wasn’t autistic, but the move was hard on me, too.

In his own wise way, James found the means to reassure us both. He started playing a game with me in the hotel room. He would hide and I would find him. Yes, this sounds like the age old game of hide and seek. But this was different. The point of this game was not to elude discovery. The point of James’s game was to be found.

I would make a big show of looking for him. “Where is James? Is he behind the door? No, he isn’t there. Is he under the bed? No, he isn’t there.” By now James was giggling and trembling with excitement.

“There he is!” I would grab him up and we would have a raucous reunion, laughing and hugging. Holding him in my lap, I would whisper in his ear, “Mama will always find you, James. Every time. You are never lost.”

He fairly glowed with delight. Then squirming down from my lap, off he raced to hide and be found again. I played the game with him every day for weeks, each day as long as he needed me to, until he was exhausted and assured that all was well.

I once was lost but now am found. –Amazing Grace

related post: Mad/Sad/Glad Game

52 comments:

  1. That was beautiful Galen!

    I think sometimes children need such reassurances, which makes them feel they are secure, loved, and wanted. I love the way you patiently took out the time to spend with him, which is tough for most parents to do.

    Thanks for sharing. :)

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    1. Harleena, In reassuring James, I found that my own spirit was reassured that everything was fine. It was a great game for both of us. Thanks for your comment.

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  2. What a marvelous story, Galen! "And a little child will lead them . . ." Isn't it amazing what we can learn from children?
    Blessings to you!

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    1. Martha, I think I had so many kids (five!) because I needed lots of leading! Each one has taught me many life lessons. Thanks for your comment, and blessings to you, too.

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  3. Galen - what a lovely story!

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  4. Adults have much to learn from children. They find pleasure and joy in the simplest things while I believe adults tend to harden with time. So glad you found him again and again. Thanks for the uplifting post!!

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    1. David, We both learned a lot from that game. I should have ended the post by saying that we were both exhausted and reassured! Thanks for commenting.

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  5. This is beautiful Galen...is it all our quest to be found by someone that loves us? Your son is very wise.

    Barbara

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  6. A beautiul post Galen.I do the same with my son and it feels great when we find each other.

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    1. Diana, It's a great game for children, and grown ups, too!

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  7. Like being tucked in at night, isn't it?

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  8. What a heartwarming memory to treasure!

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  9. We moved quite a bit...and my Mom did something similar, Galen. Oh, the joy of discovery and hugging is unparalleled. Even now, I think of that moment, with my eyes closed and I am calm again.

    I have done the same with my son - in the twelve years my Mom had health issues, we had to visit the hospital quite a lot and I would lug him around everywhere. It was often impossible to leave him by himself somewhere, unless we knew the person very well...and then, of course there's the child's fear of "Mamma coming back".

    Another happy game that we had was simply covering our faces and then peeking out to spot each other across distances. Changes can bring scary insecurities. Shucks, I know. I moved five schools from grade 1 to 10. In different cities.

    Hugs. Short sweet post that opened a floodgate of memories.

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    1. Vidya, My goodness, you moved a lot as a child. Family rituals of bonding and reassurance are so important. Thinking back to my recent post about my identification with wolves, I'm sure that is part of my attraction to them. Thanks for your comment.

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  10. Beautiful! My husband said to me the other day, "Everyone's lost but me" It is a line from Indianna Jones when young Indy gets separated from his boy scout troop. It is perfect. None of us are lost, nor really, we are all exactly where we are supposed to be!

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    1. Jodi, Great reference to Indy's perspective. I had forgotten that line. And yes, while we are all exactly where we are supposed to be, sometimes children need some reassurance of that. Sometimes grown ups do, too. Thanks for your comment.

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  11. A wonderful, heart warming story. Giving is so so empowering. It's a truth that we always need to remember.
    Riley

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    1. Riley, "Giving is so so empowering." Great line! Thanks for commenting.

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  12. Oh the old game of hide and seek and the memories you just brought to my mind doing the same with my small children. They would giggle with anticipation.

    We all in some way want to be found - only the great news is that who do we want to be found by - for me - I AM found!

    In love and light,
    Nancy

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    1. Nancy, We are all found! But sometimes a little hug and reassurance helps! Thanks for commenting.

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  13. What a beautiful story Galen! They say that's why babies love peek-a-boo! They are so thrilled that you are still their their eyes are uncovered. Moving is difficult and for most people it takes a year to get settled and used to their new place. I love that James found a way to be reassured and it probably in turn reassured you!

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    1. Betsy, Yes, I should have made it more clear in the post that I was reassured, too! The game soothed both our spirits. Thanks for your comment.

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  14. This post is so profound. How brilliant of your son to find a fun way to meet his needs and how loving of you to understand it perfectly. Thank you for sharing that.

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    1. Adriene, He was a pretty smart little boy! Thanks for your comment.

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  15. You always come up with such beautiful examples of life experiences. It such an enlightening example that has layers of meaning. What a loving and aware mother you are.
    Blessings to you!

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    1. LeAnn, Well, I would love to tell you that I was always like that. I wasn't, but I guess I did have my loving and aware moments. Thanks for your comment.

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  16. Galen,
    I think it's wonderful that your son intuitively knew how to soothe himself. He played the game until he was reassured. What a clever child and smart mother to go along with this game.
    Aren't children amazing!
    This was so well written too! As always!
    Lori

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    1. Lori, Children are amazing! Sometimes when James was little, I overlooked this because I was so distracted by his more challenging autistic behaviors and so worried about his future. But there were times when he awed me with his innate wisdom and humor. Thanks for your comment.

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  17. This is a very beautiful story Galen. Your little boy found the perfect way to get himself reassured and to reassure you at the same time.
    http://marieharmony.blogspot.co.uk/

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    1. Marie, Yes, he did. The rhythm and predictability of the game and even saying those words to him over and over soothed us both. Thanks for commenting.

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  18. Lovely post Galen, and a wonderful example of how, if we pay attention, we can find a way in to what brings others comfort and joy.

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    1. Clara, I'm so glad, looking back, that in the middle of that stressful time, I did pay attention. Thanks for commenting.

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  19. Love these little life stories! I hope he still feels found today.

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    1. Nicole, I think he does. So do I! Thanks for commenting.

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  20. What a sweet, tender story! James is a lucky boy.

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    1. Jeffrey, Thank you. I'm a lucky mom!

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  21. Galan, when my daughter was little and particularly troubled by something she would always come to me to play "rocky boat." It was a game we played in the middle of our bed, our arms and legs intertwined to create our little boat. The storm came out of nowhere and the ocean pitched and swayed us back and forth, as I narrated to brace for the next wave or prepare to be washed overboard, we tipped and swirled, giggling and pretending fright all the way as we endured the storm until the winds died down and the sea calmed into a blissful ebb and flow that left us rocking in a warm protective embrace.

    My daughter is 22 and still speaks fondly of that game and the lesson she now understands from having played it. Thanks again for stirring up wonderful memories of precious moments.

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    1. What a great game! And I love the name "rocky boat." That is priceless. I wonder if my son remembers the game we played. I'll ask him next time I talk to him. Thanks for commenting.

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  22. Thanks for the lovely story Galen. Kids universally loved to play this game or something like peek a boo and love the thrill of being found. Maybe we as adults too, what do you think? Maybe we should reach out more to those around us and show them that we're there and there for them:)

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    1. Vishnu, I love your idea of applying this game in our adult life, letting others know that we have "found" them. How kind and generous. Thanks for your comment.

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  23. Ah.....
    lovely story telling...thank you for sharing

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  24. It's amazing what moving and changes can do to a child. With my Dad being in the Army, we moved a lot. 7 schools in 10 years of study and a lot more postings before I started school! One time,when I was three, my Dad was away and my brothers were down with chickenpox as were the help. My Mum had to isolate me, to prevent me from getting it and nurse my brothers and the help. I would try to follow her everywhere - she tells me I would hold on to her ear at night to prevent her from going anywhere.
    What a delightful child James seems - I love to read all your posts about him - he seems to radiate something truly special.

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    1. Corinne, Your "ear" story reminded me of my daughter Mia, who wanted to be so close to me all the time when she was three that I would have her hold on to the pocket of my pants so that my hands were free to do things I needed to do. She would follow me around holding my pocket like a little shadow. Thanks for your kind words about James. He is a special guy.

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    2. I can picture the scene, Galen. :)
      Do you know I still have the habit of pulling at ears - thankfully Jose doesn't mind! ;)

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    3. Corinne, That's funny! I'll watch my ears if you're around!

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  25. That was my favorite game and I would hide and wait as long as it takes for them to find me. I remember always to be scared they would forget about me and I would die alone hiding under the table

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    1. Nikky, Your fear is the very reason why I would reassure James every time I found him that he was never lost. Thanks for your comment.

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