Zoe's response? She got very angry and slammed the door in his face. Tim was upstairs, I was not. He immediately ordered both girls to come downstairs and sit for a few minutes. His meaning was clear: Zoe needed to cool off and think about what she did, and Talia should think about what she didn't do -- stopping Zoe from possibly hurting Aaron.
Talia walked down the stairs nicely. Zoe did not. Zoe pounded down the stairs, and when she got to the living room, knocked several things to the ground. I asked her to come into the kitchen to see me, and she grudgingly came in, and announced herself by saying: "WHAT?"
I was tired. If you keep up with this blog you know I hadn't slept. My throat was sore, so I couldn't yell, and I didn't want to anyway. Instead, I told her she could sit for a few, and that she had now chosen to work her way through the morning. She needed to prove to me she could behave and do what I ask before we headed out to a barbeque that afternoon.
Zoe sat, and then I gave her the list of things to do:
1. Clean up the living and family rooms.
2. Clean up their bedroom.
3. Fold and put away the laundry.
4. Make the salad for the barbeque.
Numbers 1 and 2 were feats in and of themselves. The kids tend to take a bunch of things out on the weekends and we were in the thick of Sunday. She noisily started to put things away, and actually did a very good job.
I checked on Zoe's progress when she was upstairs. It was nearing lunchtime, and I wondered if she was hungry. I might be a mean lady, but I didn't want her to miss lunch. She told me she wasn't hungry, and then proceeded to put more of her things away upstairs. Soon thereafter, Zoe came down with a box, her Raggedy Ann doll, and a small blanket. She put it in the corner of the foyer.
Me: What is that? Shouldn't it go into your room?
Her: I am running away.
Me: Where are you going to go?
Her: I don't know.
Me: Do you really want to do this? Do you have what you need?
Her: I don't know.
My heart was breaking, but at the same time, I was laughing inside. Zoe was so sincere in her desire to runaway, but clearly, she had not thought this decision through. Or maybe she had, but at a nine year old level, not a late thirties level. And this was new territory for me and Tim. We didn't have time to discuss how to handle this. Would we be able to pull it off?
Me: Zoe, you can runaway if you want to, but it is going to be hot today. You should eat lunch before you go, since you won't know the next time you will be able to eat.
Me: And while you are eating, please make a list of what is good about running away, and what is good about staying home. That way, you can make an informed decision.
I got her lunch ready, and Zoe sat down to write. In the meantime, Aaron and Talia were truly worried that Zoe would leave. I told each of them that they might be the best to combat her leaving. I don't know if they mentioned that they didn't want her to go or not, but I encouraged them to do so. I told Tim that if she left, he needed to follow her on his bike.
Zoe quietly ate lunch and then showed me her list. For the record, if I had a scanner, I would scan the image in. And perhaps I just will, so that Zoe can see this later on. If nothing else, I am putting it in her keepsake box in the basement.
|3||No one to bother me||3||People bothering me|
|5||Not very safe||5||Safe|
|6||Not very good food||6||Good food|
|7||No Mommy and Daddy||7||Mommy and Daddy|
|10||No one to talk to||10||People to talk to|
|12||No water or juice||12||Water and juice|
|13||Nobody to help me||13||People to help me|
|14||No hugs or kisses||14||Hugs and kisses|
|15||No Doctor Who||15||Doctor Who|
I especially like #16. And #6. Good food? All relatively speaking. She just might be able to find better food out there, but I didn't tell her.
After all that work, she then put all the good things from the first list together (only #s 1 and 2, according to her) and all the good things from the second list together (everything but #s 1 and 2). By the end of the exercise, she decided to stay where all the good things are, which is at home. But I had to figure that out. She wrote out the word HOME in the style of hang-man, but with numbers instead of letters. The numbers, of course, corresponded to the letter's place in the alphabet. So instead of telling me she was actually staying home, she wrote 8 15 13 5.