Every kid does it at least once. I guess I never did but I thought about it. I had dramatic plans to pack a suitcase and run away from home when I was especially upset at my parents. This weekend, Isabelle decided it was her turn.
We had had a particularly rough day. Nine is TOUGH ya'll. There are emotions and eye-rolling and hormones and eye-rolling and parents telling you what to do. And more eye-rolling. Teaching a nine year old girl going on nineteen how to keep emotions in check, develop self-control, and learn to trust Jesus with it all is a full time job.
And if I'm honest, dealing with it all I have to relearn how to keep my emotions in check since I'm also raising a mini-me. We don't just look alike; we have very similar personalities which can make for some fiery dynamics between the two of us. And if my mother's experience with me is any indication, these next few years are gonna be doozys.
So after an evening of hard hearts, harsh words, and plenty of eye-rolls, we were at the epitome of nine.
Without a word, she brought me a walkie-talkie and took the other. Then, she packed a suitcase and dramatically announced she was running away. Before I knew it, she was walking out the door.
I quickly grabbed Jamy from upstairs, filled him in on what was happening, and we watched her from the dining room window.
"Mom?" (she had the walkie talkie).
"Goodbye." (Oscar-worthy drama. For real.)
That's when she broke down crying and ran back home. You should have seen Jamy and I scramble from the window when she turned around so she wouldn't see that we had been watching her the whole time.
She had gotten as far as two houses down. She never even made it out of our cul-de-sac and the whole thing maybe lasted 5 minutes.
The rest of the night there were more tears. But this time with a soft heart, acknowledgement of pain caused, and repentance. But one thing she said has stuck with me:
"Mom, I've been so mean. Families aren't mean to each other. That's why I had to leave."
I was quick to correct her. Actually, families are mean to each other all the time. We see the best and the worst of each other. We have sharp tongues and use them with the people we know will still love us if they see our ugly side. When we have a bad day our family is the first to see our crummy attitude. She's right that we should strive to love our family well of course, but often those we love most don't get the best of us.
But we were never meant to leave our family. Family works through it. Family has the hard conversations; even if there's raised voices and eye-rolls mixed in. Family always stays.
Family was never meant to say goodbye.
The night ended with hugs and reminders of God's goodness and grace. And I told her if she ever ran away again, I would always make sure she found her way home.
Make sure you pack your walkie talkie. Communication is important even when you're fed up.
You can leave out the eye-rolls. You might not win the Oscar but it'll be easier to win a heart.
If you've said goodbye, make sure you don't make it more than two houses down the street before you turn around and come home.