A few weeks ago, my 6 1/2 year old decided he was going to run away from home. Why you ask? Well, horror of all horrors, I wouldn't let him watch a movie! I know, i'm a terrible Mother. The whole thing was quite comical, but did have many layers of good lessons for both of us. I'll get to the lessons later. The comedy went down like this:
We were enjoying a leisurely dessert of ice cream on the deck, when"L" asked if he could watch a movie when he was finished. I decided against it because he had already watched his limit of T.V. for the day. Apparently, that was more disappointment than he could handle, so after much begging, he declared that he was running away. I pretended not to hear that for a little while, but it became obvious that it wasn't going to work this time. I began to explain as simply as I could that it just isn't safe for a 6 yr. old to travel alone. Well, my son had a well thought-out answer for everything I threw at him! Seems he's quite the debator (one of the traits i fear he inherited from me...paybacks!) "L", "I won't fall for any tricks Mom, if a stranger asks me for help, or wants to give me candy, I'll run as fast as i can!" Me, "Well, what if you get lost?" "L", "I'll take my chalk and leave a trail!" Oh boy, I'm in trouble. He's determined! This debate went on for a good 30-40 minutes. During this time, he was inching his way off the deck into the yard. The funny thing is every few minutes he would ask permission to go! "So Mom, can i go now?" At least he was using his manners, right?!?!
I finally decided that I was going to have to let him try, or he'd find a reason to want to run away the next day, and the next until he tried it. I would follow him of course. So I took a deep breath and said, "Well, you seem to really want to go. Will you at least give me a hug & kiss goodbye?" Now, "L" is not the huggy type, so to my surprise, he walked over a little teary-eyed and gave me a hug and kiss! I know, this is all so dramatic, but just wait, it gets worse! Then, he said he needed to get something to take with him...he went inside and came out with his baggie of Silly Bandz!!! No pictures, blankie, favorite keepsake...Silly Bandz!! I had to try not to bust out laughing! On the inside, I was a bundle of nerves.. he's really going to do this!
Off he went into the backyard around to the sidewalk. During this whole time, my 4 yr. old was listening very intently. My kids are very close, and I think it's safe to say, best friends. Well, the second he left the yard, "J" burst into tears....DRAMA! Now this is making me even more emotional! I quickly whisked her inside to explain that we were going to watch him from the window, he'd be fine. Now it's starting to look like a scene from a movie. "J" runs to the front door sobbing and holding her dress up to her eyes to blot the tears, "L, I don't want you to go!" (Really, I'm not making this up!) With that, he hears her crying. He was only a driveway away. He comes running to the door, "J what's wrong, what happened? Why are you crying?" "J" keeps sobbing, "Because I don't want you to go!" "L", "I'll be fine, J, I won't get lost I promise. I'll be back."...."J" keeps sobbing.
Through all of that, he was unaware that I was peeking out the window. I was trying to comfort "J", while keeping an eye on him the whole time. Finally, he made it 3 houses down the street to where I could barely see him. I grabbed "J" and started outside to get a better view, and get into the car if I had to. Just as I get outside, I hear the ice-cream truck. (a very rare occasion in our neighborhood) As I look down the street toward "L", here comes the truck toward him. Well, the driver must have thought "L" was coming to tag him down, and very quickly pulled the truck over to the curb. It was perfect. "L" FREAKED!!! All I see is him turn around screaming, "MOMMMMYYY!" and running faster than I've ever seen him run home. I was of course heroically waiting in the driveway to comfort him! "Mommy, there was a truck with 2 men, and they were gonna take me!"
Could the timing of this been any better for my son who had an answer for every scenario I threw at him? My heart ached for how frightened he was, but at the same time, I had to try not to laugh! The whole scene was kind of comical! I would love to know what the ice-cream man thought!
I think it'll be a long time before "L" decides to run away from home again.
Now to the lessons. "L" obviously realized the dangers of being 6 and alone on the street. I think he also realized on a 6 yr. old level how much he's loved, protected, and safe at home. Even without an extra movie, he's got it pretty darn good.
As for me, I've had so many emotions about this for weeks now. I couldn't help but feel the aching tug at my heart. Since the day they are born, they are constantly pulling away from us. Striving for independence and confidence, to be their own little person. It all comes in stages, and each one hurts a little more. Weening, starting school, first run away attempt. I was having flash forwards the whole time. The first time he drives on his own, going away to college, and hurt of all hurts for a mother, finding another woman to love and getting married. Each time these things occur they tug at my heart, and I'm sure take a little piece with it.
Then I realized too, how much he needed me to let him go. He longed for me to say it was o.k. "Mom, can I go now?" I guess my job is to give him the tools, and character to be o.k. And he will. For every tug or piece missing from my heart, he will fill it with something more. Becoming a great person. Going away, but coming back with more. Someday I hope that he has a fulfilling life, happiness, someone to love him back, and if he chooses, a family of his own. My heart will then be overflowing.
I am a Mother, Wife, and small business owner. I love to write when I can find a few extra minutes out of the day. My interests are, well, all over the place! You can read my blog at: http://4megsmusing.wordpress.
If you would like to contribute as a guest writer to the TMN blog, please email firstname.lastname@example.org