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Uh-oh…I Scared!

by Maureen Slamer

Uh-oh…I Scared!

Winter in Michigan in February can be brutal.  Power outages plague the state for days or even weeks.  Finding activities for little ones with the power out takes flexibility and a good flashlight or two.

The outage map said three o’clock.  It’s almost six!  Another night in the dark.  We’ve got to do something, Mom thought.  “Hey, let’s play hide and seek.  Grandma and Papa will hide.”  Mom smiled and flicked her flashlight on.  “Let’s count.  1, 2, 3…Ready or not, here we come!  Alright guys, where are Grandma and Papa?  Let’s find them.”  Three more flashlights clicked on.

“Not in there.”  Charlie’s flashlight bounced from side to side.  Brady followed, flashlight clutched in his hands.

“Might be downstairs,” Dad said.

“NO,” Charlie said.  “Upstairs only.”

“Yup, they’re allowed to go downstairs,” Dad said.

“This time it’s whole house hide and seek,” Mom agreed.

“I need to look a little bit more up here…Look a little bit more downstairs.”  Charlie’s flashlight’s beam danced down the stairs.  Brady and his flashlight followed. 

“Come on Brady, let’s go downstairs.  Let’s go find ‘em.  Who are we looking for?”

“Ema, Papa,” Brady replied, scooting down a stair.

“Papa and Grandma.  Toes first, buddy.”  Brady’s flashlight flickered on the darkened stairs. Brady stopped.

“Uh-oh…I scared.” 

“You’re scared.  I’m right here.  I’ll help you.”  Mom stepped closer.

“Up!”  Brady said, reaching for Mom.

“We’ll find them, Brady.”  Mom gathered Brady close as her flashlight shown down the darkened stairs. 

Play is Learning

Play is learning.  Play is the child’s work.  Hide and Seek, a simple game, became an opportunity to pass time during a power outage.  No television, no electronics, no lights, turning the limited choices available in a darkened home into an adventure.  Brady and his sister were all in, along with Mom, Dad, Grandma, and Papa.  The whole family actively engaged in play.  Charlie talked through her adventure ( “I need to look a little bit more up here…Look a little bit more downstairs.”).  Brady followed.  It wasn’t until he felt uncomfortable (“Uh-oh…I scared.” ), did Brady move from just repetition (“Ema, Papa”) to self-generating his thoughts.  He is beginning to move toward using two or more words connected in meaning.

Becoming their playmates for just a short period of time allows us as caregivers the opportunity to expose and show our littles how to communicate their thoughts and feelings and the language they need to negotiate the world.  Use their talk as a conversation starter as the game begins.  It can be a simple opportunity to play and enjoy each other.  Think about the games you played as a child.  Wouldn’t it be fun if they could play those too?


• playing a board game

• telling stories by flashlight

• going for a walk

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