Disclosure: Ella didn’t really run away. It was all under parental supervision and was light-hearted in nature.
It all started when Ella found a toy in my trunk that was going to be a gift at an upcoming birthday party. Her discovery led to a fit of “no fair” which then mutated into a temper tantrum of varying degrees. After the dust had settled, she packed up her bags and decided to run away.
I wasn’t sure how I was going to deal with this milestone in her life. In the end, I decided to play along. I walked beside her as if I was helping her with her endeavour and asked several questions along the way:
“So where are you going to live?” – In a box in the trees
“What are you going to eat?” – I’ll pick blackberries
“How are you going to get to school?” – I’ll come home to get a ride
“Oh no you can’t come home. Once you runaway, this isn’t your home anymore.” – Then I’ll walk there
On and on this went with several unusual answers. I just pretended I was curious and wasn’t really that bothered by her running away (I’m not sure if this attitude is supported by Attachment theory or not). The whole thing was actually quite comical. She was so loaded down with her bags that she couldn’t get very far.
I eventually said good bye and asked when I’d see her again. She told me to say goodbye to Jack and tell him she loved him. Although I was just playing with her, I did feel a tinge of emotion at the thought of pretending to never see her again. Then I went inside the house and left her on the street to figure it out.
From within the house, I quietly watched behind the glass door. I video tapped short episodes of her trying to carry all her bags, stopping to readjust and then starting again. Every so often, she’d come back to the house and leave something special at the door.
Eventually Byron came home and talked with her for a bit. Then he mowed the lawn while pretending not to notice but still giving her the space to explore her new found freedom. At some point they resolved to have her sleep in the back of the truck instead of on the side of the road. So she happily set up her new living quarters.
In the end, what was it that got her to come in? Coyotes. She didn’t want to be attacked by coyotes. Who could blame her?