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August 19, 2016

Born to Run

“All teens have the desire to somehow run away.”
(Joan Chen)

I remember the first time I “ran away.” I was 9, and my bicycle was my ticket to freedom. Freedom from rules, freedom from parents, freedom from everything holding me back. But, truth be told, pursuing freedom was not my only motivation. I also wanted to make a statement, and send a wake up call to my parents and siblings. For whatever reason, I was feeling ignored and dismissed. This’ll show ’em!

Of course, by the time I finally came home (after a whole 45 minutes away), I received my own painful wake-up call: no one had really noticed I was gone. At least, that’s how it appeared. I remember my mom playing it cool, and after I screamed out that I had run away, she simply and calmly stated, “Well, everyone needs some space time and agin.” (East Texas accent included)

I have tried to remember this whenever my two teenagers have done their own “running away.” Sometimes it was locking themselves up in their rooms. Sometimes it’s been wanting to spend both weekend nights at sleepovers. Sometimes it’s deliberately arguing a point to death, just to be contrarian.

All these forms of “running away” are a normal part of the adolescent process; these emerging adults are simply trying to separate in order to form themselves as individuals. And, yes, just like me on the bike, they are not always very good at it.

What they’ve needed most from me is my calm appreciation of the process. After all, if I ever want them to fully launch away on their own someday, they need to start practicing such ventures, in smaller ways, today.

Peace begins with pause,

 

 

(As I write this, my daughter is preparing for a whole semester abroad, where she’ll be “running away” all over Europe. I hope I’m prepared as well.)

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