I am, at my core, a rule follower. Yes, I like to bend them, twist them, squeak around them, and change them if I can, but in my heart of hearts I like rules. My daughter is the same way. Once there is a rule, that is it. She follows it, and expects everyone else to follow it as well. And of course one of our biggest unwritten social rules is that presents are surprises. Why do you think we wrap them?! When Christmas or my birthday comes along, I want my wife to tell me where she has hidden all of my gifts, so I don’t accidentally find them! Her wedding dress was hanging in our shared closet for months before our wedding, and I never peeked at it. Why the heck would I want to spoil the surprise?!
I am aware that not all people are such law abiding social citizens. I know that some of you sneak Monopoly money out of the bank when the other players are not looking. I know that there are peekers out there. What I don’t know is where my son falls in this category. I know that my wife is traditionally a peeker and a sneaker, although a bad experience one Christmas caused her to learn something of a lesson in that department. I also know that my daughter wants to be surprised like I do, to the point where she doesn’t even want to know that a surprise exists until about half an hour or so before the reveal, because the surprise itself should be a surprise. But my son is turning 5 in four days, and so we are going to make some personal discoveries.
Yesterday we received two large packages, both of which arrived in the afternoon when he was home from school. He, being a curious boy, wanted to know what was in them. Me, being an honest sort of chap, told him that they were his birthday presents and that he was not allowed to look at them. I put the boxes upstairs in my room and closed the door. My room, I explained, was now off limits to him until Sunday, because it contained his presents. He was very excited about this, and he even seemed excited about the new rule. It was like an added layer of mystery to our already thrilling home. He went upstairs several times to stare intently at my bedroom door, but he did not go in.
When his sister came home, he told her all about his presents, and how they were hiding upstairs, and how excited he was to get presents, and it was almost his birthday, and also presents, plus PRESENTS! But he did not go in. This morning, a little after 6, I awoke to find my son lying on top of me. “Daddy…” he whispered loudly.
“Murrrrghwwwff? Hwaaaagh?” I said.
“Daddy… I don’t see my presents in here…”
“Dass cuz mrrfl hiding,” I replied.
I wanted to go back to sleep at this time, but he wanted to sit on me and talk about his presents, so we did that instead. But now I am wondering, did he wander in as he always does and just not see any obvious presents sitting out, or was in he there while I was sleeping, scouring the room for any gift evidence? What kind of a person is he? A peeker and a sneaker? Or an obeyer and a delayer? Still too early to tell I suppose, but I have a feeling that, eventually, I’m going to find out. And I do have a guess…