Parenting is hard, isn’t it? After particularly challenging days / weeks (months) I usually turn in desperation to this book, and read it AGAIN, and swear that this time I’m actually going to retain the information and, you know, use it.
But obviously, I never do. Because if I did, maybe my 6 & 7 year old would not have RUN AWAY FROM HOME last week. Oh yes. They’d been sent to their rooms for beating the crap out of each other, and such was their objection to this that they decided, on balance, that they’d rather face the miseries of the jungle at night than stay ONE MORE MINUTE in their family home.
The rookie mistake they made was (a) to run away in the middle of the afternoon and (b) to come and tell me of their plans. “We’re off!” they announced gaily; “Running away!” I was actually totally amused by the whole thing at this stage. Because, really – how far were they going to get in their school uniforms, with their baskets and shopping bags, and wearing worn-down old flip flops? So I suggested they apply some insect spray, because it’s very buggy here at the moment (plus there’s the small matter of us living in the jungle) and had they packed their toothbrushes? (Yes, they had, but they were grateful for the insect spray suggestion.) And so off they went. (For the record, they had also packed, respectively: 6 t-shirts, 4 stuffed animals, a book, and $3; and 2 tutus, a pair of pyjamas, a pair of slippers, 1 stuffed animal, and an angel figurine – ‘to watch over me’…)
Anyway, we bid our farewells, then I waited a couple of minutes before I too sprayed up and set off in their wake – because while I might be a failure at talking so my kids will listen, I’m pretty successful at spying on them. Well, they surprised me with their fortitude, by walking for at least a mile down the windy, pavement-less road, stopping every so often to pick up the various bits and bobs that kept dropping (the Girl in particular was laiden down like a donkey) – and each time they stopped, I leapt into the bushes so they wouldn’t see me. By this stage my curiosity – where are they going to go? How far will they take it? – was being overtaken by dehydration and thorn scratches. Anyway, they took it as far as the pedestrian crossing at the big scary main road which the jungle road meets; the big scary main road which is also known as The Road Of Certain Death, comprising as it does 6 lanes of terror, along which Singaporeans blithely hurtle their Machines Of Critical Injury. At that point – just as the Boy was putting his foot on the pedestrian-crossing-of-death-or-disablement (because truly – drivers here could CARE LESS about either pedestrians, or their crossings) – I leapt out from behind the (blessedly thorn-free) bus stop and intercepted the fugitives. The Girl’s face lit up – clearly she was a reluctant runaway – but the Boy? Less so. Furious might be a better way to describe him.
So I bit my tongue and instead TALKED SO MY KIDS WOULD LISTEN – and lo! They listened! Although it’s possible that the bit they listened to was: ‘If you come home now you can have an ice-cream’.*
So I’m thinking of writing a parenting manual. “How to bribe so your kids will capitulate.” It’s going to make me millions. (Or at least enough to buy a few padlocks.)
Look – here they are mid-escape – MILES AWAY:
And here they are post-rescue, ignoring me completely, while I talk and talk and talk... (and carry all their crap).
*The Boy and I talked later and he divulged his runaway plans:
1. If anyone asked, he was going to say that they were 11 and 9. Because apparently that's ok.
2. They were heading to the shops to buy mentos. $3, remember? A pack each for dinner, and a pack to share for breakfast.
3. Breakfast would be taken in the random garden where they had slept, using some newspaper as a blanket.
4. After their healthy, leisurely breakfast, they were just going to 'hang around', and 'maybe do some begging'.
5. He thought he might - might! - come home after 3 days.
6. Oh, and he's in trouble in school so please can he stay at home tomorrow?