Have I ever told you about the time I ran away from home? Ok, it sounds worse than it is. I promise I was not looking to really run away, but I did wander off at the ripe old age of 5 in hopes of a haircut. Now, I just sound dumb. 😛
My neighbor June and I were playing in my backyard. My dad and my older brother came out from the house and told me that they were off to the haircutters and that if I wanted to come along I needed to say goodbye to June. I was having fun and I declined. At that time, June and I started to play pretend hair cut and watched the car roll backwards down the driveway and off to most likely the Brainerd Mall (Fantastic Sams). I could totally be wrong about that, though. I never did find where they went…
When June was pretend cutting my hair, I soon started to feel like I missed out on an opportunity. June calmed my nerves by sweetly informing me that she knew exactly where the haircutters were and it was most definitely walking distance. Keep in mind we’re both 5. I was gullible to say the least.
Without saying a word to anyone, we set off to find the haircut I was sure I was missing out on.
We went to Little Farm Market first. June said they had a place there you could get your haircut. I started to realize that June had no idea what she was talking about. This was a homespun convenience store with a farm fresh produce section in it. It always smelled like dirt and potatoes in there. I had been there a million times to get a treat with my mom and brothers.
We went on to the next place, and the next….and so forth and so on. Our last stop was Red Owl (S. 6th & Maple). If you are from Brainerd, MN, you know what I’m talking about. It’s a grocery store that no longer exists. They used to have these plastic carts for kids to push. I loved that. We wandered the aisles, and June said we should go beg for a cookie from the bakery. Of course, we got them. By this time, it was dark outside.
Things didn’t seem to be so cheery anymore and I was ready to go home. We decided we should probably walk home. I wasn’t sure how exactly to do that. So, we started the walk and found ourselves walking near the old water tower (at 6th and Washington). We were right up to the lion water fountain. We were not quite to the busy intersection at Washington Street when my babysitter in her car found us. She told us that our parents were SOOOOOO worried. In all that time, I had not even conceded the thought that perhaps my parents would be upset. All of a sudden a lump formed in my throat. How would I be received when I got home?
When I came inside, commotion was everywhere. There were police cars outside. People had been looking. The first thing my mom asked me was, “Did you count how many police cars were out there?” I sheepishly said no. She said, “How old are you? FIVE. There are 5 police cars.” For a little girl with a penchant for gab, I was as quiet as a mouse. I figured counting the cars was akin to how many spankings I was going to get. When my dad stepped in the house, I can remember 2 things. I remember his hands being ice cold and his face as pale as a blank sheet of paper. The only other time in my life I’ve seen him that color was when he went through surgery for an aneurism in his aorta. My parents no doubt wanted me to know how much I had worried them. They said they thought I must be hiding somewhere in the house. After searching and to no avail, their panic set in.
They brought me to the front porch to listen for a moment. From across the street and inside the house, I could hear June get the spanking of a lifetime. Spanking doesn’t sound quite right, maybe it was more of a whoopin’ or a beating to be more accurate. My parents told me they wanted to do the same, but couldn’t bring themselves to do it. I knew I deserved it. (and I was incredibly thankful I didn’t get what June got).
I look at my own kids and wonder how I would have felt if one of them went missing- at that tender old age of 5. Even looking at Adrianna, as she’s 3 and a half… off and into the world in a mere 18 months? How would I survive the moments in between discovering a child has gone missing and finding them? IF they were to be found ever again.
I was awake this morning at 4, thinking about all this. I don’t know why it came to the forefront of my mind. The image of my dad’s face and the feel of his cold clammy hands haunted me for a moment. Hot tears rolled down my cheeks, just imagining it all. As I wiped them away, I asked myself how I became such a blubber baby and thanked God that my kids haven’t given me that kind of grief… yet.