When our offspring are very young, we know where they are, most of the time. We arrange play dates, and we have baby-sitting exchanges with other moms. We usually know what our kids are doing—unless they become extremely quiet.
It’s almost a given that at one point in a child’s life he—or she—will attempt to run away from home. I’m not talking teenage runaways. I have the younger kids in mind. Their efforts to escape the tyranny of mean old mom and dad are usually fraught with humor of the unintentional kind.
Our younger son recently reported, between guffaws, his ten-year-old daughter’s abortive flight from her gilded cage and from the meanest parents in the whole wide world. Her plan was not well thought out. In her haste, she chose to bolt in the midst of Michigan’s harsh winter.
Once upon a time, a young couple went shopping for a Christmas tree. As the cliché goes, they barely had two nickels to rub together. He was serving in the US Army, which has never been famous for paying exorbitant salaries to enlisted men. She had two hefty student loans to repay. They spied a little artificial Christmas tree at the very end of an aisle that was stocked with much taller trees. The little tree was a display model, the last of its kind in stock, and the only artificial Christmas tree on sale. Its sale price didn’t break their budget.
They bought the little tree. They also bought two boxes of ornaments and a plastic star, also on sale, to decorate the little tree’s branches. They rushed home to their apartment, delighted with their bargains, and set about assembling the little tree. When they were done, she thought the little tree had a very merry look about it. Its curved up branches reminded her of smiles.
The ornaments they bought happened to be all one color—blue. The ornaments were not the traditional red and green Christmas colors, but the little tree wore them well—for three years—until the couple moved, became a tiny bit more affluent, and had a child. They bought a much bigger artificial Christmas tree. They left the little tree, alone and lonely, tucked in its box in the attic of their new home. They put the little tree’s blue plastic star atop the much bigger tree and hung the little tree’s blue ornaments on its branches.