In all the excitement over the inauguration yesterday, I forgot to mention that this weekend, Viva made her first attempt at running away from home.
Ah, yes. I remember when I was about her age, getting furious at my mom about God only knows what, and pulling out my blue flowered suitcase, throwing some beloved possessions inside it, and telling my mom I was leaving home and not coming back. I threatened to move to my grandparents’ house, and as I recall, my mom did not try to dissuade me. We were living in a housing project then, in a concrete townhouse kind of dealio, and I stomped down the stairs to the front door, which I remember was royal blue and metal, and then I sat there in the doorway with my suitcase, pretty ticked off and kicking one sandaled grubby foot at the pavement, halfway stubbing my big toe in the process. Every now and then I would steal a look up at the kitchen window, and my mom would quickly pull the curtain back as if she was not looking at me at all and wasn’t worried I was going anywhere. Realizing that she was watching me not leave, I got up a few times and walked out of sight, a few houses down and back, just to make it look like I meant business.
Finally, I gave up and went back inside and told my mom I wasn’t leaving today. I think there was some apologizing and hugging, but I can’t fully remember.
Back to my firstborn. Over the weekend, Viva got mad at Sweet Dub because they were playing Wii and she got frustrated with whatever they were playing and burst into tears. One of our house rules is that if you start to cry while playing a game, you need to take a break from playing it. She threw such a hissy fit when Sweet Dub told her to take a break that he grounded her from playing Wii for a week. This only made matters worse, and she stomped up the stairs in a screaming whirlwind. Sweet Dub was – well, it wasn’t his best moment. I decided to mediate, and I went up to Viva’s room.
Viva was crying loudly and yelling at the same time about how she was NOT going to stay in this HOUSE and she was going to RUN AWAY and how Sweet Dub was the MEANEST meany daddy EVER and it’s not FAIR and on and on in a continuous loop. I knocked on her door and went inside.
“Viva?” I said. She was inside her closet dragging out her suitcase, surrounded by various items of clothing and toys. Among the things she had pulled out to take along was her hoppity horse – perhaps not the best choice unless she was going to use it as a means of transportation.
She screeched something unintelligible and angry at me.
“Why are you mad at me?” I said. “I have nothing to do with this and I’m just trying to see if you’re okay.”
“I’m mad at everyone in this FAMily,” Viva said.
“Even Cily?” I said.
“Yeah, because she made a NOISE while I was playing and it made me lose my concen-TRAY-shun,” Viva said. “And that made me LOOOOOOOOOZ…” and she started bawling again.
“Oh, honey,” I said. (Is it just me, or when your kid cries, does it make you want to cry?) “I know you don’t like to lose. But you know games are supposed to be fun, and when it stops being fun maybe you should—“
“I am running aWAY,” Viva yelled, crying some more.
“I understand that,” I said. I watched her pick through some more of her things, sniffling and moaning. “Can I say something to you first?” Viva nodded. “Can you come here for a minute?…Closer. Closer,” I said, and then pulled her toward me to hug her.
“I just want to say that I’ve really enjoyed having you around for these five years,” I said. “And I’m sad that you want to leave us, and we’ll really miss you. And I’m sad that Cily might have to grow up without you, because you are such a great big sister. And so I hope that you’ll reconsider your decision. And I love you.”
And I kissed her, and then I walked out of the closet, out of the room, and closed the door.
Later, after Viva had come back downstairs and was playing Legos without further incident, I happened to be taking laundry upstairs and found this note taped to her door: “I am gon Love Viva” I quickly spirited it away, to be filed with my “you dot love my”and “it’s omost The Week End hep hep hray” notes from previous encounters. Oh, my girl and her drama. I do love her so.