Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Reluctant Runaway

My son has had a rough few days. He has been spilling things, breaking things, forgetting things, misplacing things. The last straw came this morning when we realized he had forgotten to clear his breakfast dishes for the third day in a row. Minor offenses such as this carry a small mandatory fine at our house: the loss of a Screen Gem (a token worth one half-hour of screen time--DVDs or computer games). It was his last available Screen Gem for the entire week.

It wasn't just the loss of screen time that put him over the edge this morning. It was all of it. He felt like a failure, worthless and stupid. Whenever things are going poorly for him, he struggles with these thoughts (despite our best efforts to convince him otherwise), but today was perhaps the worst it has ever been.

After sequestering himself in his bedroom for quite a while, he came out with his duffel bag slung over his shoulder and silently began to put on his shoes without looking up. Andy was just about to leave for work and I was sitting on the couch and we looked at each other in alarm. There was no time to plan the best strategy. He was on his way to the door.

"Tano, are you leaving?" I asked gently.

He nodded sullenly, cheeks red and eyes swollen from crying.

"Where will you go?"

He shrugged and choked out an "I don't know."

My mind raced.

"Today is that big event at the library that we've been planning on going to. They're doing the drawing for the summer reading program prizes. I'd hate for you to miss it. And tonight is the special dinner we've been planning for Daddy. We made that dessert."

His shoulders slumped and he lowered his head and began to cry again. He peeled the duffel bag off and Andy caught him in his arms as he began to collapse into a chair.

"I changed my mind," he mumbled into Andy's chest.

The boy and his father embraced for a long time and I couldn't make out the words that Andy whispered to him, but they were obviously words of affirmation, of comfort, of love.

Finally, I walked over to them and kissed my son's unruly mop of blond hair. "I'm so glad you didn't go," I said tenderly.

"Me, too," he sniffed.

"I would have missed you so much." He nodded in agreement. "It's bad enough for me to think about you going away for college. Please don't go away before then."

Through his tears, he promised he wouldn't.

Andy and I wrapped him into the middle of our embrace and prayed aloud for him.

It's going to be a wild ride with this one, I think. He thinks and feels deeply.

God, give us wisdom.

5 comments:

Jeannie said...

I'm so glad he changed his mind, and I'm so thankful for his wise and loving parents.

CML_Shearings said...

Tano must trust you all to act wisely already to make a run-away gesture in front of both parents rather than sneaking out in the middle of the night or at some other time when no one is around to notice.

Anonymous said...

Maybe he's had too much excitement and changes! But he had two loving parents who feel with him.
Uncle Ed

Sherry C said...

BTW, the boy is by now a little embarrassed that the incident ever occured. He knows that he overreacted and he understands that, at this time in his life, his hormones can tend to rage out of control, effecting his emotions strongly. He is not aware that it is on the blog--I posted it here only to have a permanent record of it. Please don't bring it up with him. Thanks.

Dan said...

I think raising boys has got to be a challenge--helping shape them towards becoming the men they need to become, while being aware of the built in sense of falling short of the perceived standard that seems inherent in men from the very beginning.

I'd remind Tano of what he did just a few weeks ago--he conquered that hike, and that's something that is a mark of a true hero, a conquering hero in fact--spilling and breaking things pale in comparison with that! (Not that you were asking for feedback...I just remember far too keenly how often I felt that I fell short of what I thought I was supposed to be when I was a kid--I can empathize with what your guy's going through.)

And sort of tangentially on the subject, (at least about raising boys), have you heard of the Dangerous Book for Boys? I think it could be one of the best books out there for helping boys develop the "wild at heart" part of becoming a man. Check it out--I bet he'd absolutely love it.