Running away from home ain't what it used to be.
My sister and my niece recently moved to the beautiful city of Toronto, known for its clean streets, rabid hockey fans (though the Leafs suck), William Shatner (Yeah, I know that Shatner isn't from Toronto...but look at cool he is...KHAN!!!!), and the University of Toronto. (Go True Blue!!) to live with husband/father (his name is Michael, he reads this blog [and is turning red right about...now], and he looks like Mark Messier. If you don't know who Messier is...go find out...I'll wait).
Toronto, on a side note, is a beautiful city that is very much on the rise again. Canada's money is slowly, but surely becoming even in value with the American dollar. As such Canadians are coming to Buffalo to shop. I'll take the money. Back to the point....
My niece is not used to being away from her "Grammy" (what my mother is called) or her "Apu" (my father's nickname because MJ (my name for her) can't say Opi, which is the German familiar form for Grandfather. As such my father is now Apu. It's a thing in my family...moving on). Not happy at all, she decided that, though she loves her mom and dad, she wanted to go back home to the USA and her "white house" (the house she used to live only a few months ago). Now you have to understand: My parents do a great deal of traveling now, and to cut back on expenses, they hire a guy named "Harvey" to drive them to and from the airport.
This is Harvey's business now. He's a retired sailor (from the Navy, not competition) and takes the denizens of the small towns of CT to and from locations of their choosing. All at a small price. Until recently, Harvey made his dough by driving the one and only Arthur Miller (the famous playwright...sigh...here) as well as Miller's daughter and her husband (actor Daniel Day Lewis...yes...Google is your friend). All in all having Harvey drive you is cheaper than parking at the airport. MJ and her Mommala used to have Harvey take them as well, be it to the airport or to New York (beats having to do the driving yourself).
So, with MJ unhappy with her new lifestyle up in the C.A. (because there is no cool way to say Ontario...just ask Don Cherry (Here's a link for you, lazy bum) about it), she marched into her room, packed up an overnight bag, returned to the living room, and announced to her parents that she was leaving and would, "be outside waiting for Harvey to pick her up." That's right, she'd wait for her ride.
Times have changed. When I was a kid, running away meant actually packing a bag and a snack, grabbing some wheels (bike or skates) and actually going out for a few hours...only to get hungry and want to come home.
My oldest sister...well, she hid in a closet and freaked the bejesus out of my parents.
My mother was allowed and sort of encouraged to leave home by her parents, but she wasn't allowed to cross the street, so she had to bike around the block over and over and over again. Eventually she got tired and bored and went home, because she figured a roof was better than circling for another hour.
Isn't it a rite of passage in some ways? Hasn't every kid at some point been fed up with the rules and said, "Screw it...I'm leaving," then left the house? Of course the modern generation really has nothing to rebel against because most parents are desperate to be friends with their kids. If you're getting every little thing you want, why leave?
And why was it that so many people wanted to run away to the circus? I wanted to run and live at Madison Square Garden. I figured the food would be good, and I could watch free sporting events. Yet it was always portrayed as the kid running away to join the circus...and then the parents would die from grief. Is that really the goal of running away? To make the parents die? Then who do you prove your point to in the end? Look Grandma...I made Mom die from grief. I win!
It's changed. My niece may have been waiting for her ride, but a nine year old in Alabama decided that he would just take mom and dad's wheels. He hopped in the truck, turned it on (after liberating dad's keys, of course), and started driving to a better life. He didn't expect to be pulled over by the cops, but they said he was polite...so mom and dad should take it easy on him.
Or there's the girl who bought a plane ticket on Orbitz using daddy's credit card because she wanted to see grandma, and mom and dad said she couldn't for a few months. She almost made it too...until the gate agents wondered why she was flying alone and asked. The kicker? Daddy's credit card was not reimbursed. Ouch. Little Suzie (or whatever he name is) will be working that one off for a while.
Now, let me make one thing perfectly clear. I understand that some kids run away from really tough situations. What I mean here is not the kid who is being beaten by dad who has just put a bar of soap in a sock and wants to beat the kid like a drum. There's about a million of those kids out there, and they shouldn't be, and if that dad comes around me, I'd wail on him...but that's just me. No, I'm talking about the kid who wants chocolate, but he or she doesn't get it, so it's time to bolt.
It's a different culture now. Kids feel they should have more privileges, and if they don't get them, they'll go where they can get them. MJ is only 3, and she already has tried to run away. I think I was 7. My sister was also 7 or maybe 8. I can only hope that my sister and my brother-in-law are ready for this. MJ is super smart, good at manipulating, and cute...and she's only 3. When she's 13, the male population is going to be destroyed...but that's another post entirely.
And then there's my son. My lovely wife and I do our best with Little Leab (the clear favorite term for him as so many people tell me), but eventually he'll try it once. I can only hope he isn't as stubborn as I was and wait out in the rain in the middle of a swamp because you're sister (the middle one) told you that your siblings were getting candy and you weren't because your were adopted and no one liked you. Then, when you went to talk to your mom about it, she said she couldn't talk to you because she was busy. So you believed your sister, packed a bag, and left...only to lose a shoe in the nasty swamp water. You get the idea.
I guess I'll cross that bridge when it gets here. Ah parenthood.
Don't worry MJ. Harvey will be there in like...fifteen years to take you to university.
But then again, what do I know? I never made it as far as the circus. I could be wrong.