Audra decided to run away today. It completely thwarted my plans for this morning.
It all began as such a lovely morning. After a cozy sleep in (7:45!), I went for a bundled up walk in our beautiful-but-frosty yard with our dog, Casey, only to be pleasantly surprised by Audra coming to join me. She had bundled up her two favourite stuffies (Mimzey and Ms. Bunny Winkie) to join us. Outside in the cool sunshine with my dog and my girl. What a wonderfully simple moment.
As I began planning the day, I thought: what a great idea it would be to take Audra to the market and craft show! I love outings with my girl. I pictured us browsing leisurely along, maybe stopping for a hot chocolate or a treat. I envisioned her happy face as she chose what she wanted to spend her $5 on. I’d have to say, that as our kids have gotten older, having these one-on-one times has become more and more special to all of us, and I was happily looking forward to my morning date with Audra. And so was she.
Back inside, as I sipped my coffee downstairs, I could hear the kids playing lego together. Ahh, I reflected contentedly, no TV, no electronics, kids getting along, life is good.
But as the way that things sometimes unfold, my peaceful morning was about to change. I won’t say it was too good to be true – but maybe it it just was not destined to be long-lived. Upstairs, the sounds of happy play were beginning to morph. Bickering and bossing began to escalate. Voices became louder – I’ll let them work it out, I thought.
And then the yelling began, signalling some parenting intervention was soon to be required. *Sigh.* I debated ignoring them for longer: Maybe they would sort it out on their own…. Unfortunately, that just didn’t happen. Oh well, I thought, it was a lovely 45 minutes.
As things played out, the kids just weren’t getting along any longer, and I opted to separate them. But as our feisty girl can have the tendency to do, she became more angry as her response to getting in trouble. My simple fix of separation became the beginning of some serious head-butting. While Ethan contentedly moved on to other activities in his room, Audra seethed. Sometimes her emotions run so hot that she doesn’t know how to cope with their intensity. And in this instance, she decided to completely defy my instructions to put the lego away, opting instead to play with it (citing that she thought she would feel better and not be so angry by doing so). Apparently, the idea of consequences was lost on her this morning.
To escalate things further, she became further enraged when I discovered her playing with the confiscated lego – and implemented further consequences of not having a friend over later on should this type of behaviour continue. She stormed off, tears streaming down her face, as I shook my head in bewilderment.
After giving her some time to cool off, I peeked in her room, only to find her angrily packing her every belonging into a large suitcase. I didn’t know whether to be concerned for the palpable anger emanating from her nine-year-old body (let’s just say that if looks could kill, I’d be worried) – or to be amused. Doesn’t every kid want to run away at one point?
As an adult, I know that she won’t go anywhere, so it is amusing. BUT – as I put myself into her young shoes, my perspective changes.
I recall running away once – and while I don’t remember what triggered the decision, when I revisit that particular memory, I can still feel the anger and frustration that I felt as a young child. If I recall correctly, I ran down the street and sat on the curb. I could see our house (Did I bring a bag of food, maybe? Or other prized belongings? I think I must have.) As I sat there on the curb, I wondered how much I would be missed. And in that moment, life was hard.
In this instance, I told Audra that I would be heart broken if I didn’t get to see her every day, but that I understood that she was angry. (Dean later asked her where she was going to go – to which she replied: the backyard.) However, I also pointed out that the trigger for her anger was that she didn’t like the consequences I had given her for her earlier behaviour. I suggested that she determine if there was another way to deal with her emotions, and said I was going to give her some time to cool off.
A little while later, Ethan came down at her request, delivering a note:
(She calls me Molly, amongst other nicknames)
As the morning played out, she had one last emotional outburst, when I told her that our morning outing wouldn’t be happening. Much as I wanted to go out – how could I reward her behaviour? I think it’s one of the challenges of being of mom: sometimes we suffer the consequences, too.
“Can’t we just begin the day over?” she implored. “Yes” I said, “But the consequences will still apply: We won’t be going out this morning.” “Can’t I have a second chance?” she asked. “Of course,” I said, “Maybe by this afternoon things can change.”
Now, a few hours later, all is once again quiet in our home. The kids are playing upstairs, and the sun is still shining outside. I feel a little antsy to get out, but my original plans were simply not to be. And while Audra’s suitcase is still packed, she seems to have come to terms with the morning and is back to being her usual self.
Maybe we’ll have another chat once she decides to unpack her things. Maybe the whole day will have a second chance.