Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A Boy Can Run Only So Far - from a Hot Meal ; He Had Never Realized That Threatening to Run Away from Home Was an Option

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A Boy Can Run Only So Far - from a Hot Meal ; He Had Never Realized That Threatening to Run Away from Home Was an Option

Article excerpt

Do all young children run away from home at some point, or at least threaten to? I once did - when I was 8 - but I got as far as the corner before realizing that within the hour it would be dark and my parents would be angry with me if I wasn't home for supper.

My first son, Alyosha, now grown, also ran off, when he was 9. I can't recall the impetus, but I do remember his hangdog expression, conveying the sense that I just didn't understand him. And so, with ball cap pulled down over his eyes and hands buried in the pockets of his jeans, he set off down the street. He, too, returned home a short while later, no worse for wear and ready to have a meal.

My other son, Anton, age 10, seems to be out of a different mold. Where Alyosha was reticent and relatively thick-skinned, Anton is more methodical and emotional. He wears his heart on his sleeve, and his feelings are easily hurt.

I don't think he realized that threatening to run away from home was ever an option when things weren't going his way - at least until a few days ago.

Here's how it went: We were working together on his homework (math - woe is me). The assignment dealt with metric vs. English units of measurement.

He understood the sense of the assignment, but the actual calculations didn't seem to have much rhyme or reason for him. His frustration mounted to the point where he refused to go any further.

"Take a break," I advised him, to which he replied, "Oh, so you want me to go away." It was an odd connection between what was said and what was heard - certainly much more complicated than converting quarts to liters.

Be that as it may, he trudged up to his room.

I stayed below with the hated math homework, listening as drawers were opened and closed above me. Five minutes later, Anton returned with a backpack sloppily stuffed with clothing, a toothbrush, and his Game Boy.

But he didn't leave the house right away. As I looked on in wonder, he pulled out a map of the world, spread it on the floor, and began to draw lines with his fingers. I realized that this was for my benefit, to show his intent.

I lay down next to him. "Where you headed?" I asked.

"Ukraine," he said. (I need to mention here that I had adopted Anton in Ukraine when he was 5. …

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