Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Running Away: What to Pack

When I drove in from work the other day, it was pouring buckets of rain and about 40 degrees. Absolutely dismal. Sylvan came out, dressed in his rain coat, with a backpack and a grumpy face on.

[Picture the following conversation happening in the pouring rain, while I juggle my 3 bags.]
Sylvan: I'm running away.
Mama: Why?
Sylvan: Because it's raining [SUPER grumpy].
Mama: Really? But you'd have to be outside in the rain for a really long time until you got to somewhere sunny.
Sylvan: I don't care.
Mama: [Drip down my neck. Rain plastering my hair to my face.] Well, I just got home from work and it's really wet out here. Can you spend a little time inside with me and we can cuddle?
Sylvan: [Big sigh.] O.K.
The running away was forgotten for the rest of the evening. Until, after everyone was tucked in, when we looked inside Sylvan's backpack. These are the things he determined to be essential items.

For reading material:
A Alligators All Around (Sendak), in the nutshell library version that used to be my brother's. And the Sweet Dream Cards that have beautiful images and a little poem on the reverse of each one.
also pictured above: candy cane, wind-up flashlight, Chewy Granola bar,
(barely visible, lower right) travel pack of tissues
Above: Star Wars Lego instruction booklet (strangely, no Legos though)
and the picture of Sylvan and Ginger the pony

Things to cuddle:
Ducky and Hedgie.
Also some things that represent Sylvan's fondness for babies and babyhood, not to mention the little gnome pillow filled with lavender, at the back:
Two long-sleeved shirts, one pair of sporty shorts, two pairs long pants, three pairs underpants, one pair clean socks. (Not pictured: one pair dirty socks.)
I did ask Sylvan's permission to post this, since it seemed rather personal. He said yes, after I persuaded him that other children might like to know what to bring along with them when they prepare to run away. Please also note that Sylvan packed his light saber, ready for anything.
Finally, I have recently relinquished interest in the struggle to manage my other son's pre-teen personal hygiene habits. I am not thinking of it so much as losing the battle (or war) but rather taking a kind of civil disobedience approach, kind of a love approach. Do we really need to argue every week about when to take a shower? Do I really want my son to grow up feeling scrutinized by me, so that he doesn't like to smile because I might notice his teeth are dirty?! Goodness, how have I lost my way like this? The peaceful and loving way is for me to see how beautiful he is all the time, how I adore the sound of his giggle, and how I love him clean, dirty, with fluffy, flowing locks of hair or long, greasy strings. Someday, other moms tell me, it will be all I can do to get him OUT of the shower! (And he gave his permission for me to post this.)


  1. What a resourceful guy. Sylvan was clearly prepared for anything! So true about teenagers and showers. We only have one full bath, and Harper will spend an hour in the shower -- twice a day! -- leading us to resort to threats, in order to allow any of the rest of us to be able to use the bathroom.

  2. Ahh yes, the running away...

    When I ran away I packed my Baby Beth and a can of ginger ale in my backpack that looked like a kitty cat and my plan was to live in the trees at the end of the road.

    Clearly Sylvan thought this through much better than I.



  3. I'm so impressed with Sylvan's "essentials"...and also with how neatly everything was packed away inside. What a thoughtful selection!

    Summer's coming...maybe when you're feeling that Jonas really needs a hosing off you can suggest the brothers Eichenlaub enjoy some wet time with the ol' garden hose?

  4. My heart is absolutely mush for that boy...thank you so much for sharing. This is just about the sweetest thing I've ever seen.xoxoxox J.

  5. I think we can all agree that the bag that Sylvan packed is pretty much perfect. It is like a piece of well formed art - you can't take one part away without ruining the balance of the whole.

    As for not fighting the bathing habits - it is so Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle of you!

  6. iris,
    you must know this is my favorite post to date. sylvan is so wonderous...he thought of everything! so so so stinkin' cute~! i miss that kid.
    and you all too!

  7. I giggled throught this entire post. So cute and fun and lovely.

  8. truly a complete running-away kit!