This episode has unfortunately not been the first time she had run away. Just a few weeks back, while I was on an after-dinner walk with Violet (Lily had decided to stay back and read a magazine), she left the house without the hubby noticing to look for me. When I returned with Violet from our walk, our neighbor was talking to a woman I didn’t know, informing me that the lady had just brought back Lily, who was standing somewhere in the neighborhood, crying when she could neither find me nor the way back to our house. I made her promise never to leave the house without permission again.
Even before that incidence, there were two episodes of her running away. Once, when she was about 18 months old, she left the apartment without Richard noticing. I was at a neighbor’s house, chatting, when I suddenly saw the hubby walking outside. I asked him what was up and he said that Lily had taken off. After a panicked search we found her at yet another neighbor’s porch, playing with the toys there. The next time, she left my grandmother’s house just a few days after our move there. I thought she was with Richard, he thought she was with me (it was a huge house). In fact, she had left through the back door, in her jammies and without shoes, walking out onto yet another busy street. A driver stopped and lead her off the street, ringing on our door just to check if she lived there. I tell you, heart-attack worthy!
I am glad that Lily doesn’t run off because she’s unhappy at home; she does it because she wants to be independent. She sees that if adults want to go somewhere, they just go (even though this is not completely right, the hubby and I usually let each other know where we go). And that’s what she does. That’s what she has done a total of 4 times now since she’s been 18 months old. And it scares me. I refuse to lock the door of our apartment. We’ve done it for a while after the last time she took off, but stopped again. I don’t like locked doors, and we live in a very secure neighborhood, so it’s not necessary. I don’t want the girls to get the feeling being locked in. We want to foster independence, but Lily takes it a step too far. This little 5-year old has the self-confidence of a big one, which I love on the one hand; on the other hand, it gets us all in situations like that. She does not know enough of the world to be safe. And we don’t want to scare her, if she would even understand the potential dangers out there. Again, we live in a very safe environment, but you never know who might pass through and take advantage of the opportunity. After last Sunday, we tried to tell her that there are bad people out there, who might hurt her, or take her away from us, and then we would not have a Lily any more, which would be beyond sad to all of us. She just held my hand, hugged me and told me it was ok and that she would always come home to me again. I love her for her optimism, but need to find a way to make her realize what kind of dangers are out there without taking this optimism from her. I need to make her realize that she is not a grown-up without smothering her inherent independence; I have experienced myself that this will only drive her away from us. Any advice that does not involve locked doors is welcome!
|My little whirl wind girl|