Today N gave me a little scare: she decided to run away from home. It was the first time she has ever done that, and I sure hope it’s the last.
N’s summer camp ended last week, so this week she and I have spent lots of quality time together at home. Of course, we are a typical mother-daughter duo — for all the giggles and fun times, there are as many little moments of hurt and anger. Sometimes we swing from one to the other in the space of a few minutes.
Case in point — this morning was all fun and laughter until N suddenly, inexplicably, got REALLY upset that she couldn’t have the red-haired Ariel wig she saw in the store yesterday.
When I tried to rationally explain why we couldn’t go back to Target to get the wig (“Um, honey, tomorrow we’re going to freakin’ DISNEYWORLD, so we really need to spend our time packing and getting ready”), she didn’t care. All that mattered was that she wanted the Ariel wig, she wanted it now, and I was the person standing in the way of her having it.
“I’m going to run away!” she cried. “I’m going to find a new family to live with! You won’t be my mom anymore!”
As I sighed, I wondered — what in the heck would I do if she really did try to run away?
“Honey, let me tell you a story,” I said. “I tried to run away once when I was 5 years old.” She stopped crying and listened intently. I told her that I got so mad at my parents that I packed up a suitcase and walked out the door. We lived on a farm, so I walked up the road behind the house, towards the fields. As I walked, I wondered — where would I go? Who would take care of me? After what seemed like an eternity, but what must have been only a few minutes, my dad found me. He was driving his tractor in the fields and picked me up, put me on his lap and drove me back home. I felt so good and so secure, and I never tried running away again.
As I told the story to my 5-year-old daughter, I teared up. “Why are you crying?” she asked. “I don’t know,” I said honestly. “It just makes me sad to know that you feel like running away, just like I did.”
My story didn’t alleviate her hurt or her anger, so after a few more minutes I left her room, hoping she’d calm down — and slightly concerned that she would take an idea from my story and try her own little escape attempt. When I decided to “run away,” at least I had the good sense to walk through our own property instead of walking towards the public road. N wouldn’t have that choice here in Brooklyn; she’d be out on the street. What would I do if she sneaked out without me knowing and got lost on the streets of New York??
A few minutes later, she came downstairs and (thankfully) announced that she was indeed going to run away. I noticed that she didn’t have a suitcase in her hand, but she nonetheless walked towards the front door, with a few little glances at me over her shoulder. She was certainly pushing the boundaries to see how I would react.
I sighed and commented that I would just have to run after her. She bolted out the door and down the street, so out the door I went too, right behind her.
She jogged and I jogged. After we’d gone past a few houses, I commented, “You are literally running away from me right now.” We both started cracking up laughing, and that’s when I knew that everything would be okay.
Of course she didn’t make it easy on me. We ran around the neighborhood for a while, until she got tired and asked me to carry her home. “Are you kidding me??” I said incredulously. “You’re the one who decided to run away. Now you have to get your own butt back home!!”
I hope there won’t be a “next time,” but if there is I asked if she could give me the heads-up a few minutes beforehand so I have time to go to the bathroom, grab my phone, etc.
And I hope she got it out of her system today, while we’re still at home, before we trek through the airport tomorrow and through Disneyworld in a few days! I don’t want to be those parents with a “runner” on their hands!! Oy.