I’m sprinting up the street chasing my child, who is running away from home. I have bare feet, no bra on and I’m wearing my PJs. This outfit is so far from active wear. It’s inactive wear, lying on the lounge wear, not sprint wear. The shorts have teal lace around the cuffs and matching coloured lace at the neckline. It’s 5.30 in the afternoon, my daughter has run away from home as a mini peak hour trails down our street, watching me, the maniac, bra-less mother sprinting up-hill after her crying nine year old. Just a normal day in the ‘burbs, really.
I broke a promise. She railed, screamed and cried, I stuck to my guns because of botulism and she didn’t understand. All she understood was that I had promised her pizza and now it wasn’t happening. After explaining patiently that Daddy didn’t know about the deal, he had been away, come home and defrosted chicken for dinner and that’s how it has to be. I had food poisoning from undercooked chicken once. My experience resulted in having to poo in a cup for the doctor, a fortnight off work, and passing out on the tube. It was all too risky and complicated. You can’t mess with chicken. I was not going to risk full scale chicken plague, vomiting and pooing in cups for the sake of one crying child. So I cancelled the deal, broke the promise and her heart and she decided to run away from home.
First she hid in the house, quite well in fact, when I did find her, she was camouflaged near a large unicorn head in her bedroom like ET. She shrieked and dashed to the front door. I may have helped her quest a little by calling her bluff, unlocking the door and telling her if she wanted to run away, go right ahead. She did. I watched her zoom around the corner and hide behind the neighbour’s hedge.
I stood at the door for a while, unconcerned for her safety until she crossed the road and slunk up towards the adjacent street. When I saw that, I left the house and raced after her, she already had quite a head start on me. That’s when it turned into a barefoot bra-less sprint. It wasn’t pretty. Every now and again she turned on me and and abused me, telling me I was unfair and I never think about what she wants, and it’s always about me, and she was right. I finally had to stop and agree with her. We continued to throw shouty words at each other for a bit.
I agreed it was unfair of me to break a promise and I didn’t want to do it and I was sorry. I then made another promise which I knew I could keep. On the weekend when she had a planned sleepover with a friend I would buy pizza from her favourite shop. I explained that sometimes adults had their reasons for things and it was complicated. She didn’t care. In her eyes I was still a meanie and a bad mother because I broke a promise.
I sighed, turned around and told her I didn’t want to chase her anymore. I was out of breath, wearing insufficient and unsupportive clothing and you know, there were people in their cars, watching us. Like they’d never seen anything so fascinating. This is as good as it gets people, reality TV out on the street. Tantyville on Jacob, tune in any night of the week.
As I turned towards home, she ran after me and that’s when I cracked open. I realised she is such a little person and she needs me. Even though she wants to hate me and run away, she can’t. At least not for another seven or eight years. So I scooped her up, put her on my back and we trundled home, with her reading me the riot act loudly in my left ear.
Here are some reasons I found on another mum’s blog site where she lists why it’s not a great idea to break a promise. Sandra W – if you are reading this, your daughter told me you promised her a dog if she won the cross country. That’s a big promise. Here is why your daughter gets a dog.
5 reasons to keep your promises with kids – extract from a blog by Dana Hall McCain
- Keeping promises shows kids they can trust you
- Keeping promises tells kids they are important
- Keeping promises models integrity
- Keeping promises builds respect
- Keeping promises teaches them how to have good relationships
The thing with kids is they remember stuff. They remember the bad stuff, the times when it didn’t really go all that well, the times we lose our temper and say things we can’t take back, the hurtful things we do as adults because sometimes we are stressed, tired, in pain, sick or just need a break. Whether it is a bike ride, a day out, a movie or a pizza, it is better to stick to your promises, trust me it will end in tears.
Rachel Wilkinson is a counsellor, massage therapist, reiki practitioner and blogger, although she has done parenting courses and read a lot of books about kids, there are some situations which you cannot for the life of you even imagine.