You’re It

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My husband and I made a trip to the DMV yesterday.

That’s never fun… right?

Well I wasn’t looking forward to it. That’s for sure. But we’d put it off long enough. Finally, after (practically) receiving death threats from the New York DMV, we gave in and got our vehicles registered in Iowa (a task we should have done much sooner but our titles had been lost in the seemingly bottomless abyss of boxes still stacked in the garage from our not-so-recent relocation).

Not only was it kind of hard to part with my New York plates (silly, I know), but who wants to spend a day at the DMV? Last I checked it still wasn’t the happiest place on earth. In fact, it’s usually the opposite of that.

But if you were at the Mills County, Iowa DMV yesterday, you wouldn’t have known it by looking at my kid. Nope.

She was as happy as could be, skipping and hopping and having a grand time running up to random people (as if there’s any other kind at the DMV), smiling and joyfully shouting “I see you!!!”

Yes, she was playing Hide ‘n Seek. And, perhaps by default, the people at the DMV ended up playing Hide ‘n Seek too because a 2-year-old reminded them that it was OK to do so. I was amazed how she so easily transformed one of the most hated places on earth into a magical, whimsical playland in a matter of minutes. She actually managed to make it fun.

It was wonderful to see complete strangers playing along. Some were DMV employees, while others were patrons waiting their turn or simply passers-by. Some were far more serious than others. A few were dressed in business suits, possibly on their way to the court house. They certainly weren’t dressed for play time. They had other things on their minds. But eventually everyone gave in and played. It was nice. A little odd at first but nice.

In fact it rather quickly turned into Play Day at the DMV. Everyone participated. My daughter saw to it that no one was left out. That’s for sure. People, both children and adults, were peek-a-booing at one another playfully. It made it so, for the first time in my whole life, not only did I enjoy my time spent at the DMV but I didn’t want to leave. Have you ever truthfully (and without sarcasm) been able to say that?

Children are wonderful, aren’t they? Who else could make the DMV fun? If an adult had done what my daughter did today, he or she would have likely been arrested or shot with a tranquilizer dart or something. OK, maybe that’s extreme. But certainly they would have received strange looks and maybe even a twirly-finger-around-the-ear type gesture or two.

Perhaps it’s simply impossible to stay serious when approached by a child, smiling from ear to ear with sweet, inviting “let’s play!” eyes and a face beaming with innocence and excitement.

And, really, what better place for an impromptu game of Hide ‘n Seek than at the DMV? Seriously, I can’t think of one… can you?

Granted, the Iowa DMV is nothing like the New York DMV. Sure, they do the same things. But, for example, my husband and I were first and second in line to have our cars registered. Crazy, huh? Even crazier? It’s a holiday week!

In the past, we’ve waited hours (and not just the minimal quantity of hours to technically qualify as the plural form of the word hour but an actual # of hours long enough to fully cultivate an urge to stab yourself in the eye). New York DMVs have serpentines and electronic number machines and dozens upon dozens of lines, each one with a separate function, and hundreds of rows of chairs full of people who honestly look like they’d been waiting for days, weeks, months maybe. My husband and I once waited for over 4 hours only to be told we were in the wrong line and then had to start over. And it smells there! No, not like cookies. And you wait so long that you inevitably become numb to that smell, then eventually you become that smell.

Here in Iowa, like I said, we were first and second in line. I can prove it too. Our license plates are literally one number apart. Weird, huh? I would post pictures but I’m not sure what the rules of identity theft would say about that (and I’m too lazy to look it up). So you’ll have to take my word.

Even weirder? The people there are nice! They gave my daughter a lollipop. Sure, banks do that all the time… but the DMV? Really? And I feel confident that had I asked, they’d have given me one too. The only thing I’ve ever gotten at the NY DMV was a headache and a receipt.

Not to bag on New York. I have huge love for the state and the city, the people (even those at the DMV) included. I’m just saying that maybe, just maybe, they would benefit from an impromptu game of Hide ‘n Seek. Or maybe Tag is more their speed?

Do you remember how wonderful it was to play games like Hide ‘n Seek and Tag? I loved both, especially Tag though I hated being “It.” I still do.

Sometimes I too want to run up to a random friendly face, smile and say “I see you!!” I would like it if someone (preferably not a violent lunatic with a knife) did that for me. But it’s nice being seen. Isn’t it? Who wants to be invisible? Maybe for a moment but not forever.

Or simply tag them “It” so I don’t have to be “It” anymore. Sometimes I need a break from being “It” all the time. I’m sure it’s not just me. Do you ever feel that way? Maybe you and I could share a laugh and frolic together instead for a moment, letting go of the stress of the day. It might be nice to share “It” – whatever “It” is with someone else rather than struggling with “It” or through “It” on our own, or keeping “It” buried inside. The burden of “It” can be a big one. “It” isn’t always easy. Is it? But if we share “It” maybe the burden of “It” will become easier to bare.

Maybe it’s not appropriate in everyday life to break into Hide ‘n Seek or Tag or any other childhood game. Red Rover, maybe? Nah, probably not. After all, we are grownups and we have very serious matters to attend to. We don’t have the time for silly childish things like games or recess or naps.

Well that’s too bad.

But wouldn’t it be great?

Check that. It is great. Life. Who says we have to be so serious all the time? You’re not the boss of me. Saw that one coming, didn’t ya?

I think children have it right. The world doesn’t always have to be such a serious, uptight, stressful place. After all, it’s full of butterflies and daisies and kittens. I want to laugh and be silly, frolic (yes, frolic! what? you don’t frolic?) and have fun. I want to enjoy this moment while we’re in it.

I bet you do too.

So tag! You’re It!!

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