What to do when kids try to ‘run away’?

Earlier this week, Walsh got mad at me in the pool and told me he was going to run away. He got out of the pool and went inside to pack.

I couldn’t quite decide what to do: Do you not make a big deal about it and say OK see you later. Do you forbid them to go? Do you pull the Carol Brady and assist them in leaving and then tell them of course I’m going with you?

Lilina was swimming with Rose in the pool so I didn’t want her to drown while I was inside checking on his fake getaway but I also didn’t want him heading out the front door without me knowing it.

I gave him a few minutes to cool down, told Lilina to get on the steps and then I went in to check on him. He was coming down the stairs shirt on and with backpack strapped over his shoulders.

I went to the bottom of the stairs to try to stop him and then I looked down. He didn’t have any pants on. I started laughing and said “I think you’ll need pants if you’re going to run away.”

He said “I didn’t have any good shorts upstairs.”

So he goes to my room where the clean laundry is stacked in baskets ready to be put away, and he proceeds to start pulling out pants for his backpack. He grabbed a pair of underwear, and I said I think you’ll need more of those. He said, “Don’t you worry. I’ve got a bunch.” (Again, I started to laugh. He was just so cute packing his stuff. You always wonder what they would bring to care for themselves. I think next trip I am letting him pack for himself. He did a good job.)

Then he headed back upstairs. Again I gave him some cooling off time and then went up to check on him. This time he had a fleece blanket spread out of the floor and was folding it up. He said, “I’m going to need a blanket.” I said good choice. Then he decided he needed to repack the whole backpack. He dumped everything out to fit in the blanket.

At this point he still wasn’t cooled off and was packed,  and I wasn’t sure how to keep him from trying to walk out the front door. So I told him that if he left, the police probably wouldn’t let him come back and live with us and they would put him in a home with strangers. He didn’t like that. He started to cry and gave up the plan. I didn’t know what else to say.  (I tried to comfort the little guy after and move him on to other things.)

I think the runaway threat is fairly common. I posted on Facebook after it happened and a lot of folks sent me notes saying it happened to them too. What is the best way to handle it? What should you say or do to head it off?

26 comments Add your comment

Augusta

August 3rd, 2012
7:48 am

Cute story Theresa….One of my babies did that ONCE. I asked her where she planned on living, and how was she going to eat, with no money. She said she had her allowance ($5.00 at the time)……it is hysterical and oh so hard not to laugh at their little plans…..so I told her, good luck, and sent her on her way……

She ended up going across the street, and setting up shop in the neighbor’s dog house….She went to the door, and asked the neighbor if she could live in the dog house. I had called her shortly before, as I saw where my child was going. So she came out of her house, and walked my daughter around to the back yard, opened the gate, and told her to go on in. LOL. She then shut the gate, and went back in the house. About 30 minutes later, she has a knock on her sliding glass door, and my baby is out there, and she says to the neighbor “I think I made a mistake, can I go home now?”, The neighbor replied, let me call your Mom and see if it’s ok. we let her stew for a few minutes….She came home, with her tail between her legs….LOL. We still laugh at that one…She was 6.

newblogger

August 3rd, 2012
8:22 am

I did that once. I was about 6 and was mad that my mom wouldn’t go get my brand new, big box of crayons (with the cool sharpener) from my Grandmother’s house across town. I had forgotten them and she said she would go later, but that wasn’t good enough for me. I said I was running away to MeMaw’s. I got my little purse, my 50 cents, and headed out. My mom said, “call me when you get there”. She didn’t think I’d actually leave. After about 10 minutes she wondered where I was and my dad found me a few houses down the street, apparently headed to MeMaw’s. We both learned something that day…I did NOT know the way to MeMaw’s, it is not a good idea to tell your stubborn daughter to “go ahead” because she just might and daddy is not happy when said daughter challenges her parents.

Tom

August 3rd, 2012
8:30 am

I think you meant “run away”, not “runaway”. “Runaway” is either a noun or adjective, but never a verb.

I think the real moral of this episode...

August 3rd, 2012
8:45 am

…is DO NOT leave your 5 year old alone in the pool, even IF her 11 year old sister is there to “Watch out” for her…

Urinal Cake

August 3rd, 2012
8:49 am

Yeah….This happened to me when I was a kid. My mother did the “You won’t find better anywhere else so good luck” routine on me. I left anyway. That was 38 years ago and it was better everywhere I went…..Well, the one exception being at the weirdo Mr Greir’s camper. Still…..Overall it was better getting away from her randmom sex partners that would steal from me…And her. One guy took her car to get some beer and cigarettes and never came back.

Urinal Cake

August 3rd, 2012
8:51 am

Also….Am I the only one that never called my grandmother “MeMaw”? If I called her that, she would have punched me.

Urinal Cake

August 3rd, 2012
8:53 am

Question for the blogger……

You have a pool with children in the house…..Have you thought about swimming lessons for them? Even if you are there, they still might drown. Better safe than sorry.

FCM

August 3rd, 2012
8:54 am

My mother let my brother go. He went and sat under the neighbors tree. My neighbors spotted him and took him a plate of dinner.

What Walsh (and the others) need is a safe place to go when they feel they need too. What if when you are super p”ssed at Michael you could not even go to the store or something?

For my brother it became a good friends house. When things were headed to a point he would call Chris and say I need to bunk at your house. Both sets of parents would know.

My parents have told both kids they are welcome anytime. In fact my oldest has called my mother and said “Mom is on my nerves. Can you come get me and I stay there tonight?” It works for us.

camille

August 3rd, 2012
8:58 am

My oldest tried that one. I told her she could leave but with nothing but the clothes on her back. We purchased the items for her to use in our home and if she wasn’t going to live there, then she couldn’t take the clothes/toys.. anything.

She decided to stay…

I do let the kids know that they have a choice: they can live with me or live with the state…

Urinal Cake

August 3rd, 2012
9:11 am

Tom
August 3rd, 2012
8:30 am

I think you meant “run away”, not “runaway”. “Runaway” is either a noun or adjective, but never a verb.

You’re correct…….And she did it more than once.

PS

August 3rd, 2012
9:11 am

I think I must have been the only kid alive who never threatened to run away. Heh. Mine have never threatened it, either, but they’re still pretty young, so time will tell, I guess.

Mara

August 3rd, 2012
9:12 am

Thank you TOM!! I looked at the headline and had to do a double-take. “What to do when kids try to ‘runaway’”?!! Come on. They are trying to RUN AWAY – as in get away by running. UGH! And from someone the AJC *pays* to write for them? Shame.

Mara

August 3rd, 2012
9:23 am

UrinalCake asked “Am I the only one that never called my grandmother “MeMaw”?” -

No, you are not. I’d never even *heard* of people calling their grandparent anything except Grandmother-Grandma-Granny until I moved to Georgia.

Bob from Accounttemps

August 3rd, 2012
9:31 am

I avoid that issue entirely by giving the kids everything they want. Seriously, it’s inevitable. Our daughter is running away to college in two weeks :-(….

homeschooler

August 3rd, 2012
9:34 am

I never tried to run away and my kids have never tried it but I remember a neighbor of mine when I was little threatened to run away. He was about 6 and he packed his bag and his dad said. You can run away but you can’t cross the street. I was about 8 and I thought… he can go a long way without crossing the street. (seemed that way to an 8 yr old and a 6 yr old) He set off… walked around the whole block which was probably almost a mile in a safe subdivision, and ended up back home and happy to be there.

I never called my grandmothers MeMaw either but don’t knock it. I never met a MeMaw who wasn’t awesome.

jarvis

August 3rd, 2012
9:45 am

The entire Grammar Police is made up of d-bags.

Urinal Cake

August 3rd, 2012
9:48 am

So writing like a d-bag is OK, but pointing it out is not?

Pointing out d-bags is a d-bag action.

Becky

August 3rd, 2012
9:48 am

I never thought about running away when I was at home..The boy has told me a couple of times that he is running away.. But when he does, he wants us to buy him a Air Stream camper (back yard) and give him $100.00 for food..When I ask how is he going to wash his clothes, he tells me that he will bring them in to me..The girl only wants $100.00 for food period..

motherjanegoose

August 3rd, 2012
9:59 am

I never threatened to run away as a kid and my own two never threatened either. No help from me on this one…y’all have fun.

catlady

August 3rd, 2012
10:04 am

My younger daughter, at 4, decided to run away. I have a picture of her sitting on the sidewalk of our apartment buiding with her case, sucking her thumb. She didn’t go further, but her protest was heard.

My son left one time, sleepwalking! He had walked before, ending up in odd places in the house. This particular morning he was nowhere to be found. I went down the driveway to the road, looked up and down, (sheer panic by this time) and turned to go back in the house to call the cops. There he was, curled up asleep in the flowerbed, next to the window to his room.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

August 3rd, 2012
10:04 am

I don’t mind corrections. I shouldn’t have made that mistake but people don’t have to be jerks about it. I just banned UC for multiple violations. He’s impersonated and insulted other bloggers. He’s been off topic and rude to other people as well. He’s out of here.

Robert

August 3rd, 2012
11:41 am

1st off, I can’t believe the respose from some of these People. They need a Life badly. 2nd thing, My Grandson wanted to run away from his house and move in with me. I explained the danger that could happen to a little boy (age 6) should he ever attempt this. I explained how sad I, and the Family, would be if something bad happened to him. Kids are Kids, every parent will go through this at some point. I think you handled it correctly, even the pool scene. Good going Mom, You made me smile this morning…

but of course

August 3rd, 2012
12:16 pm

I tried, several times… when I was about six, you know, bandana on a stick and everything, got 3 houses down, told my friends what I was doing, their mom offered lunch, I played a while and then went home. When I was older (tween) Mom said I could go but I couldn’t take anything she purchased – duh, that was everything! I did actually run away once (to dad’s house), my mom chased after me because she thought I had her car keys, once she realized I didn’t have them, she turned around and went back home. She called my dad before I made it over there and told him I was on my way. Stayed there for a few days until I calmed down. It’s about having a safe place to get perspective.

LM

August 3rd, 2012
12:44 pm

I ran away several times. Once at 8, I asked to stay in my friends playhouse, things were bad at home. A few days/weeks when my brother and I came home my mom told us to pack our rooms we were moving. Turns out she knew about my stepdad and knew she had to get me away. Than again at 12. Don’t remember what caused it but I was just getting read to jump from my bedroom window when she came to my room. We talked and I left to stay with a friend for a few days. Thankfully my mom understood I needed a place that was safe and where I could cool down.

The last time was when I was a senior in high school. I left my car for her and walked away. Got a ride from a troll who asked if I needed money. I was lucky enough to get out of that situation without harm. I never went back home. I did finish school and got an appartment with a bunch of roommates.

Mom and I are very close now, have been for years.

My daughter wanted to run away when she was about 5. She wanted to live under the sign at the front of the subdivision. She packed her stuff and her dad helped her load her bike and walked her across the street. She made it a few houses to her friends and stayed with them the afternoon then came on home for dinner. We joke about her living under the sign…

Me

August 3rd, 2012
12:53 pm

Theresa,

The biggest advice I can give you based on this story is: DO NOT LEAVE kids by the pool without supervision. Asking a kid to stay on the steps unsupervised is the same as writing the drowning sentence. Even if you child knows how to swim, he/she can still drown.
I would have asked all kids to go out of the pool and go into the house. Then I would have a long talk to Walsh about the incident asking him to explain why he chose to run away and how he was feeling at the moment. I would give him 24 hours to think about how his actions impacted other people (everyone had to come in the house) and if there are other ways he could have handled/expressed his feelings. Also, I would ask him to think about the punishment/consequence that he should take for his actions (at the end he did not listen to you). Then next day I would sit down to discuss his thoughts, proposed punishment (which you may approve or disapprove) and perhaps provide some ideas to him on how he can handle his feelings next time. I would also explain to him how his actions made you feel. At the end, I would ask him to write an apology letter to his siblings and to you.
I know some people posted quite cute stories, but I think nowadays you have to be careful. You can easily be arrested and/or lose your children if someone called the police and reported that a child was walking alone on the street. All they need to do is to take a picture and call 911.

jmb

August 3rd, 2012
1:34 pm

I ran away with a friend when I was barely 14. I wasn’t having any problems at home at the time but she was and I agreed to go so she wouldn’t be alone. We took off hitch hiking to Florida. Ended up in Clearwater right after a hurricane and the tried to sleep on the beach but the bugs were eating us alive. Somehow, we took a ride from 2 truck drivers and the claimed they had to go through the terminal so we’d have to ride separate. From there, we didn’t get to meet back up. The driver I was with made a pass at me and I threatened to him telling him I had a knife and to stop the truck. He did at stop and let me out at a store and then came in to tell me he had a daughter my age and would like to get me home. I went with him and he drove me all the way to the GA line and then found another trusting driver to bring on in to my home town. I called my mom and got home safe but we couldn’t find my friend for another 4 days. By the time she did make it back, her trip didn’t go as smooth as mine. Some really bad things happened to her and we eventually lost touch. I often wonder where she is these days and truely pray her life has went better than it did. Needless to say, I didn’t run away any more though.