We had a dramatic evening. Evan packed his most treasured belongings in a shiny Spider-man suitcase, and ran away. It was a bit tense and quite funny. But as weird as it seems, I had not, until tonight, thought about how I would deal with the scenario of one of my kids threatening to run away. Why is that? Surely I must have known that this was going to happen at some point. I mean, doesn’t every kid run away? I was unsure of how to deal with it. I didn’t want to help him pack and say ‘”it’s been nice knowing you,” because I want him to know that he is important to this family. But I don’t reward bad behavior, which is how he was behaving, and making a big dramatic deal of him leaving would, I think, do just that.
Of course I didn’t for a second think he would leave. I knew he had packed but he was taking so long deciding what he should take that I continued with the dishes.
Colin tugged on my pants with a crayon and notepad. “Can you write a letter to Santa for me, Momma?”
“Sure I can, Colin, what would you like?”
“Write, ‘bring me a new shiny Spider-man suitcase because my brother “take’d” mine when he ‘runned’ away.’”
I ran out the front door and what a pathetic sight. Evan was walking to our neighbor’s house holding his suitcase with his head down. He was under a traffic light in the rain.
“Evan, come back here,” I yelled, but nicely.
Eventually he came in but was upset.
I told him how sad I would be if he ever ran away.
“But you’re such a mean mommy,” he said.
The reason he was running away was that he threw a baseball in the house hitting a shelf that held my signed bone china, breaking 3 of my favorites.They were valuable and I am one of the few who actually still use china when we entertain. Evan ran up the stairs crying. I had no reaction. I simply turned off all the lights downstairs and the TV, grabbed the jammies and said, “it’s time for bed.” I knew if I reacted, I would flip, so instead, I did nothing. For Evan, doing nothing was worse. Then he knew I was really upset (I’ll put that in my vault for when he’s 18). So that is when he threatened to leave.
“Evan,” I said. “Trust me, you have never in your life seen a mean mommy.“