It was last Tuesday that it happened. Just a regular Tuesday, or so I thought....get up, do the morning routine, go to barre, come home. Ask the kids to finish putting their laundry away. Get ready for some outside playtime before we start school. And then...suddenly, it wasn't a regular Tuesday anymore. My oldest son walked calmly out into the living room and informed me that he was running away. That he didn't want to be part of our family anymore....and that he was taking the most important thing with him. "My Bible!" he stated fiercely, grabbing it from its spot on the shelf.
Blink. Well, at least there's that. Don't laugh! This is serious to him. Deep breath...
"ok....why don't you want to be part of our family anymore?" I asked him. Granted, we've had a difficult 2 months, this oldest child and I; so it wasn't completely out of the blue. Still, I thought we were doing better than "I don't want to be part of this family anymore"!
"You ask me to do too much," he stated. Ahh, yes. The chores. The lovely chores...too many "chiefs" in this house, as my dad used to say. He does NOT like being told what to do, unless it's something he wants to do. Actually, all my children are this way...and I promise you, although he probably does a bit more than some of his friends, because we homeschool and, well, that's the way it goes- he's far from a slave. Just the regular stuff...take out trash a few times a week, make his bed, brush his teeth, help sort and put away laundry or unload the dishwasher; help set the table, change the chicks' water in the mornings (oh, we got chicks!)....regular kid stuff.
"We do ask you to do things, because you're part of this family. And families help each other out. Do you think your friends don't have to help their families?"
"Is there something I can do to help make your chores more fun?"
"No. I'm running away from home. I might change my mind and come back, or I might not,"
"I would sure miss you a lot if you decided to leave. So would Daddy. We love you very much."
exit eldest child.
At this point I wasn't really sure what to do, to be honest. I realized I'd just have to let this play out....the kid is very strong willed and telling him he couldn't go or getting angry with him would just exacerbate the situation. And then he might actually run away. So I didn't say anything.
And he packed his suitcase and backpack, took a blanket, asked me for some food (which I didn't give him. I told him that I didn't want him to leave, so I wasn't going to help him with that part. But that he was free to take his wallet with him. With the allowance in it he'd earned from doing above chores...ironic, no?)
About this time his little sister and brother came out to the kitchen and saw what was going on. Blasie opened the suitcase because he thought Pax was taking all the cars with him (that's when I saw he'd packed a full change of clothes-including underwear and socks-on top of his Bible. Parenting WIN!!) Blythe, on the other hand, started to cry.
And then he walked out the door.
And she sobbed.
I held her in my arms as she sobbed that she didn't WANT Pax to leave, that she LOVED him and WOULD MISS HIM SO MUCH; and although I reassured her I was pretty sure he'd be back, I also encouraged her to go tell him what she had told me. Because honestly, I wasn't entirely sure if he would be back or not.
"Maybe it'll change his mind," I suggested.
So she ran out the door.
I followed, of course-I did have a seven-year-old who'd just ran away from home; and although I wasn't 100% on the protocol, I knew I needed to at least see what happened next. And, you know, where he'd gone. Which was down the street, almost to the neighbor's at this point (it's quite a ways-we have big lots in our neighborhood). My little daughter ran, legs and arms pumping, after her brother.
"PAX!! PAAAAX!!! (she caught up to him and stopped-he slowly turned around. Seriously, people. I felt like I was in a tv drama.) Pax (sobbing), I LOVE you. I don't WANT you to leave!! EVER!!"
Pax looked down at her....and then, even so slowly, wrapped his arms around her. It was so sweet... I don't know what else was said at that point; they were too far away to hear. But they turned around and headed for home, together.
When he finally reached me at the end of our drive way, I just put my arm out and gave him a big hug. He told me he'd changed his mind, and that he wouldn't leave again, ever. I told him he might want to someday, for college or something, and that was ok- but that I was very happy he'd decided to be part of our family. And then he asked me to carry his suitcase inside...to which his 35-pound little sister chimed in "I'll carry it!", even though I'm pretty sure it weighed almost as much as she does.
It gave me a lot to think about that day and the next, this running away from home stuff. And it turned out that I wasn't the only one it caused to think deeply. After a picnic lunch in the living room, Blythe started to cry again-because when she thought about Pax walking out the door, "it just hurts my heart SO much and I don't want to feel that way!!". This from the passionate little girlie who told me, just last week, that she felt "like I don't have any room for loving Pax in my heart. I don't even WANT to!". She's passionately emotional, that one. But what it taught her-taught BOTH of them, really-is just how much she truly does love her big brother. And just how devastated she'd be if he wasn't in her life....which is a very, very good lesson to learn, indeed. Not always are we given second chances to realize how much we would miss someone if they were gone. Not always do we get to chance from one day to the next and decide to show them more love-at least not without some kind of cataclysmic event. I'm so very thankful for that little life lesson for my kids-and for me, as Adam and I are constantly trying to know our kids well and love them in their differences. For the kid who wants life to be one giant party, this gets a bit tricky when it comes to things like work ethic and chores. But we'll get there. Because we're a family, and we help each other out...in more ways than one.