Tuesday, March 3, 2009


A radio station I listen to each morning on my winding trek to work has a question each day that they pose to the listeners who will then call in and share their memory or experience. (Much like blogging out loud)

Today’s topic or question was based on a story “ripped from the headlines”.
It was about a 12 year old boy who had an argument with his folks and sometime in the night, woke up, took their SUV for a drive and ended up in the parking lane at O’Hare airport in Chicago. With no plane ticket, no money and no plan, he called his parents to come get him. (in what? I guess they could call a taxi) The radio hosts marveled at the kid’s ingenuity and skill. A. to drive an SUV! B. to navigate his way to the airport on the risky, congested highways around O’Hare in Chicago!

The question was- assuming all young children run away, or plan to run, “how far did you get?”. The male host got to the end of his driveway. One female host got 10 miles away, and the other to a neighbor nearby.

My own children? I only remember my son running away. Embattled by a terrible, strict mother who didn’t sympathize, give in or fix the household problems as he saw fit, he took off. Walking around our neighborhood, blowing of incredible amounts of steam. He must have come home eventually, I was ready to call the police. I was scared and a little dramatic. The girls must have been too scared of me, or too scared of the surroundings – anyways they were too oppressed to take action. (that I know of, they could have quietly snuck away to run away, and before I found out, reconsidered and came home. Who knows.)

Either way, it’s a right of passage. It’s a can of worms when the “children” become around 17 or 18 – the running away is more like breaking free – proving themselves GROWN. All done, you’ve screwed me up enough, and I’m outta here. (been there done that, broken record)

When I was little, around 7 years old, I had the fortune of owning a real piece of luggage. The make-up case size once belonging to a matching set, and then when the hard cardboard like sides were scuffed up, became a hand-me-down that I used to hold my doll clothes. I was fortunate, because if someone crossed me (that someone was my mother, always trying to be the boss of me-who knew) I would plan by escape. “They” would be sorry of course, beg me to stay, feel that I was grossly ignored or misunderstood. Cheated by the world of unfair practices! I would dump out the doll clothes, pack the bag with pajamas and books or a favorite doll. And set it by the front door, which was the passive aggressive symbol for “I’m blowing this pop-stand, and don’t you try and stop me”.
I’ll need a ride.

My mom, who got sick of my threats, and who wouldn’t really, some punky seven year old with attitude, threatening to dash off when she had to clean her room, took me up on my threat one evening. She very nicely told me that she had to run to the grocery store and could swing by the orphanage near our school to drop me off.
Now, in those days, I had this dreamy vision of orphanage life. One that was fed by cool movies I watched on Saturday afternoon on black and white television, they always had a happy ending. Adopted and loved, the immediate overwhelming emotion was complete and utter attention by the adult pored on the kid. Our school was a Catholic school, and the nuns at our school also gave of their time at the orphanage. We had orphans attending our school, and we gave our cast offs and extras to those kids in a forthright effort to do good works for those less fortunate. Seemed a good gig to me.

My mom, set my case in the car, keeping enthusiastic, told me that she was stopping at the super-market to purchase some ice cream for our dessert after dinner, such a shame it was that I would be missing that treat, perhaps the orphanage would have some dessert for Sunday evening snack. We drove in silence. She left me in the car while she went into the market, I could see her in the check out line, but I was getting a little panicked that I’d have to make good on my threat, and I really didn’t want to leave home. She got back in the car, showed me the gallon of vanilla ice cream and drove on. Silently she drove passed the orphanage, didn’t stop, but turned the other direction, heading north towards our street. Narrowly escaping that absurd idea, I never threatened to run away again. Oh, I used to write in my diary all about finding another place to live, where I would be appreciated for all my specialness. I never acted on it or voiced it again.

How about you? Did you ever run away? How far did you get?

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