After a few weeks on her new chart I was noticing how well Solana had been doing at school. But just moments after praising her in my mind I got an email from her teacher. In summary:
Solana spent 15 minutes in the bathroom after lunch today. This has happened a few times and I had to interrupt my teaching to go get her. I'd like her use the restroom in the nurse's office after lunch so that she can be monitored from now on. Are you ok with that?
When Solana got home we talked about it and she didn't see anything wrong with this new arrangement so I explained to her that it's not okay. That she's basically in trouble for taking too long in the restroom and that she's pretty much being babysat because she hasn't shown herself responsible enough to use the restroom alone. She didn't have much of a reaction until I told her that I would have to talk to her Daddy to determine a consequence. At that she burst into tears because she just new that he'd take away her chances of working on a horse ranch this summer (her current #1 desire in life).
At that she declared, "I'm leaving! And I'm never coming back" and ran out of the room. I spent the next 40 minutes or so wondering what the right thing to say/do would be. This is a moment she'll probably remember. My reaction is important. What to do...what to do... She began packing her things. I didn't know what to do so I played along.
Where will you go? What will you do? What will you eat? You know it's raining out, right? You'll probably want an umbrella. I'll be pretty sad if I never see you again. Are you going to wait to at least say "goodbye" to Daddy?
To her credit she had a plan. She emptied her piggy bank and packed lots of toys to sell. She'd first find a horse stable to sleep and then go to Kroger to buy some food. Then in the morning she'd ask the owners to let her work and sleep there. Unfortunately, she couldn't wait around to see Daddy one last time because dusk was coming and soon it would be too dark to find a place to sleep. I watched her leave the house and then ran to get Chloe in the van when she was out of sight and I realized she wasn't coming back. Chloe and I followed her from a distance in the van until she got to a busy intersection. I pulled up to the stop sign and rolled down the window, "Would you like to come home?" Brightly, as if I popped my head into her room and asked if she'd like some ice cream, "Okay." She hopped into the van and we went home.
"Mommy, do you know where I was going?"
"I was going to to that horse ranch in Centerville and then I was going to go to Kroger." She didn't realize she was actually headed the exact opposite direction.
When we got home I explained to her that little kids can't live alone. That they need Mommies and Daddies to take care of them and protect them. There are mean people out in the world who hurt and kill small children and we never ever want that to happen to her because that would be the saddest thing that could ever happen in the whole wide world. So please always stay close to us and never run away again. She agreed. "No go unpack your giant suitcase and put your things where they belong." "Okay" she giggled as she skipped down the hallway.