Guest blogger Kourtney: My 10-year-old daughter threatens to run away weekly. Anytime we make her upset, she says she hates us, stomps off, slams her door and yells from her bedroom that she's running away. My husband and I roll our eyes; she's cried wolf enough times for us to know they're just words. The last time she threatened to run away was last night (after we took away her phone privileges for a week), and I was so irritated I called out to her, "We'll miss you!" Now I wish I hadn't said that, because it was like a dare. And my daughter, being especially stubborn, doesn't shy away from challenges.
I paced around, thinking how her teen years were going to kill me. But then I cooled off, as I knew she eventually would, and decided I'd go and make peace. Except that she wasn't in her room. My husband hadn't seen her; he'd thought she was in her room, too. We called out her name and looked everywhere -- closets, basement, garage, even the roof! -- and when we couldn't find her, we thought, "OK, what if ...?"
I checked her piggy bank: full. I checked her closet: no clothes missing, as far as I could tell. It appeared that she had left with whatever she had on. Then I noticed that her pillow was missing, and her stuffed lemur, Jumper. Seriously? How far did she think she'd get with no money and no clothes?
We called her best friend, and then we called more of her friends. When none of them had seen her, we became panicky. My husband drove up and down the streets around and through our neighborhood, but there was no sign of her. Just as we were about to call the police, there was a knock at our door (oh my god, how my heart pounded with that knock!). It was our neighbor, Peter. "I think you should see something," he said, and we knew by the expression on his face that he knew where she was, and that she was OK.
He led us through his front door and into his kitchen. He turned out the lights and pointed out the window into his backyard. There, sticking out of his doghouse, were my kid's legs. Peter had heard something out back and had thought it was a raccoon, but when he looked outside, he'd seen my daughter crawling into the doghouse with her pillow.
We decided to let her stay where she was. Peter promised to keep an eye on her, and to call us if she left.
I laid in bed last night, relieved, but also thinking that a doghouse was a funny choice -- because she was in one in both literally and figuratively. She finally skulked back home this morning in time to get ready for school, but we didn't speak. Peter called as she was walking home and said that he'd covered her with a blanket around 11 PM, and that he'd heard a soft "Thanks, Pete" from inside. At least she'd retained some modicum of civility.
Whatever message she was meaning to send by "running away," I don't know how to feel about it -- aside from being both angry and relieved at the same time. I'm the parent, and I can't let a 10-year-old get the upper hand in the house. But then, I can't have her thinking that running away is the right solution whenever she doesn't get her way ....
Moms, has this ever happened to any of you? How in the world did you handle it?!