Setting the Scene:
Bean runs away a lot. It’s part of his coping mechanism- at home and school, it’s not a big deal. We call it “hiding it out” and usually I can just let him hide a few minutes, and then he comes out and is a happy boy. But if you try and keep him from hiding, or exert your will and pull him out before he is done, it’s like nitroglycerin. I’ve learned that the hard way.
The hiding and running in public places is a lot harder to deal with- and when we go out into nature or to the park, he almost always takes off. I’ve leaned to give him a fair amount of latitude- as long as I can see him, I try and roll with it. Today at the park, he took off running- and he kept going. He ran from the playground where we were meeting friends for a picnic dinner, all the way across the park to a baseball diamond on the far side. It was waaay farther than I am comfortable, and I attempted to flag him down and call him back. Which of course sent him further away, and he climbed the bleachers to hide. It was way too far for him to hear had I yelled. And I can yell.
Keeping my eye on him, I got Jeff and Abby in the car, then drove over as close as I could get in the parking lot to the diamond. I was hoping he would see us packing to leave and come back. Nope.
We sat in the car for a few minutes, as I contemplated what I should do. I knew if I walked over to the diamond he would just run. You have to approach him very carefully. Hmmmm…. I rested my chin on the steering wheel and watched his tiny form on the bleachers.
“Hey Jeff, why don’t you take a walk over there and tell him we need to go.” He hopped out of the car and began to jog across the long field. Sometimes Jeffrey is less threatening than I am- at least he knows Jeff isn’t going to punish him.
What happened next was one of the tenderest acts of love and service I have ever seen:
The boys were so far from me that I could not hear anything, and only guess from the pantomime of their gestures what was happening. First, Jeff approached, and the spoke. His arms flailed and he pointed, and Bean climbed higher up the bleachers. Jeff shrugged and started to walk away and head back towards the car, where I waited with Abby. I was unsuccessfully trying to formulate a plan where I could get him and not have him run into the stand of trees immediately behind the diamond.
Jeffrey was part of the way back when he suddenly turned around. Bean was still sitting on the bleachers, and Jeff tromped back up to him. A few minutes of gesturing, then Bean began to climb down. I could not figure out what they were doing- but I could see movement. Then, as they came together from behind the backstop, I could see that Jeffrey had Bean on his shoulders and was giving him a piggyback. My 8-year old son had gently coaxed my six-year old into trusting him, and heading back to the car. And he did it by offering his own back.
Tears sprang to my eyes, and my hands knotted over my heart. What love for a brother. What a tender kindness- and what an amazing heart that he didn’t give up, that he got an idea, and turned back to get his brother.
He carried his Bean across almost the entire field- easily 100 yards. By the time he set him down, they were close enough that I could hear them. Jeffrey’s face was flushed and sweaty, and Bean was delighted by the piggyback, oblivious to the ruckus he’d caused.
Sometimes we just have got to throw out the play-book and let our kids write new rules. Today my eldest son showed some of what he’s made of- and my heart grew three-sizes.