Here’s the vanishing parent trick

Today I’m going to be discussing a very important parental topic: hiding from your young children. Hear me out.

Living with young children is like living with a team of paparazzi that are also Chihuahuas. Once you come into view, they’re on you, often with cameras and an endless sea questions and observations and sometimes they give you a ball and expect you to throw it. Or hide it. Or get angry because you took the ball they gave you.

In case you’re thinking about having a child and allowing them to become 6 and 3, here is a sample of the first 30 seconds right when you come home from work:

3: “I pooped!”

6: “Do you know aardvarks?”

3: “Now I don’t have to poop!”

6: “What’s heaven FEEL LIKE?”

3: “I spilled cereal on the floor.”

6: “Can we get a pet chicken?”

3: “I need to poop again!”

6: “Do chickens go to heaven?”

3: “You need to help me make three on my hands.”

6: “I’m going to paint you a mural. Give me paint now.”

At this point your children have spotted you and you’re officially doomed. You’re not allowed to slowly walk back out like nothing happened, either. Eventually your spouse will catch on and “help you out of your coat” while conveniently barricading your escape.

Single people and couples without children may be thinking, “How could you possibly HIDE from your own children? What a terrible thing to do! If I’m ever a parent I’d NEVER do that.”

Yes. You totally will. Eventually you won’t even feel guilty about it.

Sometimes parents need a few minutes’ reprieve. It’s hard to do that when one child is whistling (horribly) and the other is demanding juice in the same tone of voice as a movie judge in an unruly courtroom.

There will come a time when they will be focused on playing and you and your wife can potentially slip away unnoticed. It’s as if you’re prisoners and they are the prison guards. We tried this again last weekend.

Slowly we began our move. First it’s a small shift, kind of like when you were a teenager and in a movie theatre trying the old yawn-arm-around-your-date thing. Then you pretend like you’re checking out their activity but all you’re really thinking about is freedom. The key is to move slowwwly. They cannot realize you’re about to NOT be watching them draw a picture of a donut with eyeballs.

The next thing I knew I stepped on a plastic nail from a workbench. I would probably need crutches but I didn’t make a sound. Almost free. Then, as we were inches from the kitchen, my wife stepped on a yodeling goat puppet. Their heads whipped around.

“Stop!” I hiss-whisper to my wife. “They can’t see us if we don’t move.”

“You’re thinking of a T-Rex,” she whispered in reply but remained motionless anyway.

Suddenly they were on us. Circling us.

“What are you guys dooooooing?” they asked like gang leaders spotting defectors.

Still, we didn’t move. I considered playing dead, like you’re supposed to do during a bear attack. Fortunately, I remembered the last time I tried that and the three-year-old’s 40-pound knee slamming into my Happy Daddy Fun Zone.

Twenty poop emoji stickers were placed on my butt. They were testing us.

They didn’t move on and it became a game. We were caught. So, I did what I had to: I shouted, “Mom has fruit snacks!” and ran. In the case of parental sanity, it’s survival of the fittest. Unfortunately, if you’re gone too long, your spouse will make it a game for the children to find you and you’ll know the answer to question of whose side she is truly on: her own.

And then, of course, there’s hiding SNACKS from your children. This, too, is a parental necessity. Like sharks sensing a drop of blood in a million drops of water, children can hear the rustling of snack foil wrapping from two floors away behind four closed doors – from six states away. Sometimes you buy something that you don’t want to share. They have enough and you JUST WANT THIS ONE THING PLEASE LET ME HAVE THIS ONE THING.

They’re like German Shepherds trained to find contraband. I could wait until they’re asleep and move my package of cookies into the utility closet in one of the seven boxes marked “basement” that haven’t been unpacked from three years ago and in the morning they’ll have them ripped open on the kitchen floor.

“What are you eating?” they’ll ask as you attempt to eat a cookie under the collar of your shirt. Luckily, I know how to defeat them.

“Nothing. A bird.”

“A bird. Ewwww!”

They think it’s hilarious and get distracted wondering what else I’ll eat. It is probably scarring them in some sort of irreversible way but it works EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

Don’t get me wrong; kids are great. Some of them. Some of the time. Well, maybe a few. Anecdotally, I’ve heard this is true. Given all the children there have ever been it’s statistically possible anyway. However sometimes sanity needs to be restored.

If you need me I’ll be eating birds in the garage (by “birds” I mean cookies and by “garage” I mean attic).


Kelly Van De Walle can be reached at or via his secret snack room (you must play a specific tune on the piano to open the secret door but he doesn’t trust you with that information). Follow Kelly on Twitter @pancake_bunny for more sound parenting advice.