It’s a simple game, Peek A Boo. We’ve played this game with our babies, hundreds of times. We hid behind the blanket, and popped back out. They seemed confused for a second and then giggled when they saw us again. We were having fun, but we were also teaching them that even though they can’t see us that we are still there. We were teaching them that they exist separately from us, and we exist separately from them, and that’s okay. That’s how it is meant to be.
As they grew, the game became more involved. Hide and Seek. Maybe we hid behind a curtain, or snuck into a closet. The search took a little bit more effort. The time apart was a few minutes instead of a few seconds. But we always found each other again.
When my kids first learned to ride their bikes, they wanted to adventure around the block. I would walk with them down to the corner and watch them ride away down the long side of our street. I kept my eye on them until they turned out of my sight. It would be a minute or so that they were on the far side. I would walk back to where we started and then could see them as they came around the next corner riding towards me again. The time apart got a little longer, and the distance a little further.
With time, came bike rides across town, and then their driver’s licenses. Text me when you get there…check in at nine…let me know before you leave. It was just a bigger, more complicated game of Peek A Boo. I exist without you. You exist without me. That’s how it’s meant to be. But I’m always still here if you need anything.
As they move out, the distance grows farther. There are now miles between us and our children, hundreds, sometimes even thousands. The time apart can be days, weeks, or months. It can leave us parents wondering, waiting, and worrying. We have to lean on the lesson that we taught them long ago. I can’t see you, you can’t see me, but I’m here. And then soon enough, it’s time for a call, a text, or a weekend visit.
Again, we are pulling back the blanket, jumping out from behind a door, and seeing them return down the street on their brand new two wheelers. Our hearts skip with joy. I am here. You are here. Whether you can see me or not, I’m always close by.
Peek a boo, I see you.