...we've had our very first runaway(s)....right in the midst of this fine holiday season!
I was shopping the other night, finding some screaming deals, when I got a phone call from my 10 y.o. She said that our middle two girls were nowhere to be found. She said she searched the entire house, the yard, the neighbors' yards where their "sledding hill" is...no girls. It was getting dark...or rather, it was quite dark already. I was only a few miles away so I told her to keep looking and I would come right home to help.
I got a phone call a few minutes later reporting that the lost had been found. The girls insisted that they had been in the yard all along playing tag and such. At this time, my 10 y.o. reported that earlier she had seen the two girls off walking down the street, around the corner and then later overheard their discussion that they had gone down another street and had walked until they saw a dog, at which point they decided to beat cheeks home. I told her I would talk to them because they know they aren't allowed to walk off our cul-de-sac without permission.
I got home and asked the girls what they were doing walking around the neighborhood. They said they were just out walking. I told them that they aren't allowed to do that and beside the fact it was getting dark, it also was much too cold to go wandering off. If they would have gotten lost, they could have easily and quickly gotten dangerously cold...and they could have gotten kidnapped!
I got quick apologies from both.
Later that evening, as I was getting ready to go out the door to work, our 9 y.o. (one of the wanderers) started whining (and I mean whining) that she never gets time to do her homework!!! I told her that it is her responsibility to get it done before playing outside. She wailed that she forgot that she has homework!!!! I told her that that just doesn't cut it. That is what they have a planner for. Her job in this position as a student is making sure she checks her planner every night, even if she thinks she doesn't have homework, and that she gets her homework done every night.
She was getting quite loud with her outburst, so my husband, who was trying to get the baby to sleep, reminded her to keep it down. She raised her voice even louder so he raised his, telling her that she had 20 minutes to complete whatever she had for homework (which is always plenty of time for her). She continued her high-pitched whining and wailing and was getting quite obnoxious until he yelled at her that regardless of what she had to say, time was ticking...get her homework done in 20 minutes or she would go to school without it done! To which she began crying and saying, "Mom! I have to talk to you!"
She came down to the door and said, "Plus, Mom, I really did run away!" I asked her, "When, tonight? You mean when Olivia was looking for you....you were on the run?" She said, "YES! Everyone is always mad at me and yelling at me, even when I try to talk so nicely. I finally got tired of just talking about running away and decided to just do it! I decided to try it to see how it feels." I told her, "Oh. I'm sorry to hear that you felt that bad about being here that you decided to actually leave. You really picked a bad night to try it though. Besides the fact it was already getting dark and you could have easily gotten lost, it is really, really cold out there. You could have quickly frozen and then what good would that have been? And just think, what if someone would have kidnapped you?"
The "kidnapper" word is the one that always gets her thinking. She has great discussions of the "what-ifs" involving kidnappers..so this kind of slowed her down a little bit. Of course this great confession came right as I had to get out the door so she promised to talk about it with me when we were both home the next evening after school. I also pulled my oldest aside and asked her to, at some point, mention to her dad what happened and ask him to talk to her about it. That way she feels that we at least acknowledged her distress (as dramatic as she can be). I know they both talked to her then after I left.
When we talked the next afternoon, her emotions were pretty evened out and she just told me where all they walked, what all they saw, and wasn't even in the least bit disturbed anymore. The highlight of the whole discussion was the fact they saw a bulldog on the run (I have recently seen the same dog in the neighborhood) and decided they better make fast tracks home.
I have a feeling that these two just might turn my head a snowy white before too many years!