As a child, I regularly ran away. I know my parents are reading this right now and saying, “What on earth is she talking about?” Because I don’t think they ever noticed.
Let me tell you.
A dirt road leading to the west ran right against the southern side of the post office and separated us from Nannie and Pappy’s house next door. Lots of oil field workers drove in and out of that area every day and we had to hold someone’s hand to go to our great-grandparents’ house as well. North of the house was a pretty steep drop off into a tiny valley where an oil well stood. To the west was another drop and beyond that was a wall of old trees, a pond, a pasture, and more oil wells.
I was surrounded on all sides.
On more than one occasion as a young elementary school student, I felt that I’d had enough. Probably because I was in trouble for pestering my brothers or not doing what I was told. I didn’t have a lot of options, but I finally figured out what to do and in classic “I’ll show them” fashion, I began packing my things.
I spread my blankie out on my bed and carefully began placing items that I would need for survival on top of it. A baby doll, plastic food from my toy kitchen, a notepad and pencils, and I was off. I bundled up the four corners of my blankie, tied them together in a knot, and slipped it over the end of my toy broom. On a piece of notebook paper I scrawled the word, “GONE,” left it on the bed, and shut my bedroom door on the way out.
Now, that part was key. The door had to be shut. When I was little our doors were almost always open. Shutting the door was an act of defiance and something out of the ordinary that I thought would be noticed.
Then, I walked one and a half feet out into the hallway, right next to the bathroom door, plopped myself down, stuck my bottom lip out, and began to unpack my goods. I don’t think I stayed out there very long any time that I “ran away,” to this day it is difficult for me to remember why I am mad about something for much longer than a day, so if we do a reverse extrapolation of that, I’m guessing no longer than 10-15 minutes around age 5.
A friend on Twitter mentioned her child pulling a similar trick (running away to his room) and it reminded me of this. Isn’t it funny the things we do as children? It made me think about some of the things I may do in my life right now as little acts of defiance–refusing to stick to a diet, not going to the gym, failing to keep a writing schedule–and how, at this point in my life, the only person I’m really harming is myself.