My six-year-old made me a treasure hunt to complete one afternoon recently. Making a treasure hunt is the kind of thing you do on hot, stormy afternoons in August when it’s impossible to go outside and your dad finally makes you turn off the TV and electronics for a few minutes.
I have to say, I was pretty impressed. Without prompting, he grabbed a few scraps of paper and drew pictures of locations in our living room and kitchen on each of them. Then he hid the clues and gave me the first picture to start me off.
Thanks to his passable drawings, I was able to complete the hunt without much assistance and secure the grand prize at the end: a piece of paper with a heart drawn on it.
Obviously, it didn’t end there. Next, I had to complete my four-year-old’s treasure hunt.
Of course, I had to follow the same game playing protocol as with the six-year-old. Meaning, when I was given a clue, I had to walk around the room and hold it up to compare it to potential matches.
“Is it a pillow?” I asked, staring helplessly at the first clue.
“No,” the four-year-old replied. “Hold it up!”
I held it up as instructed.
“Hmm. Looks a bit like this pillow.”
“No. You already passed it.”
“Hmm. Maybe it’s this table,” I said, holding up the paper with a wobbly circle scratched on it, considering the possibilities.
This round turned out to be a bit more haphazard and in turns more and less difficult. It was a bit more haphazard primarily because he forgot that there needed to be a new clue at each location, so we had to stop so he could draw a new clue each time and then hide it. It was also a bit more difficult because, while the hiding places were ostensibly supposed to be linked to the preceding clue, they seemed to be completely random. In addition, the drawn clues were, shall we say, a bit more abstract. Not that it mattered. Since the clues weren’t linked to anything. See, I’m turning myself in circles in this paragraph just as I was while playing the game.
On the other hand, though, the four-year-old’s game was easier to complete because he led me to the location of each clue and pointed it out with not so subtle hand gestures. Picture a school crossing guard directing traffic, but with even less self-awareness. No matter. I certainly appreciated his dogged effort in cutting out the middle man.
If nothing else, the relatively short experience was a nice reminder. Two years is vast in kid years. Particularly from age four to six. Sometimes it’s easy to forget how far apart they are because in my mind they are so connected.
Come to think of it, I don’t remember what the two-year-old was doing during this whole sequence of events. Playing with magnetic blocks, maybe? Riding the chihuahua? Hmm. Guess we should start working on her treasure hunt making skills. I’m counting on her to guide me through my next search in about two years.