I’m pretty sure that 13 of the silver hairs on my head are from Miss Charlie. My strong-willed adventurous daughter. My runner. I still remember the very first time it happened. We were playing at a park we frequent in the neighborhood. One we’d visited often. But on that day two years ago, I felt the first panic of “oh shoot, she’s on the run”. Heading from the swings to the slide, it happened. Miss Charlie gave me that wide-eyed evil grin look and took off running towards a busy street.
WE HAVE A RUNNER!
I glance towards Mr. Oliver who was heading up the slide and my eyes dart back to Miss Charlie, running as carefree as could be with hair blowing behind her and the cars zipping by in front of her. In that moment I chose to let Mr. Oliver continue going up the ladder to the slide in hopes he’d make it and sprinted my chubby legs faster than ever before. I swear she ran faster the closer I got. I flung my arm out like one of those sticky stretch hands that grab things and brings them back and got ahold of one of her arms to slow her down.
I kept her out of the street that day and also realized how important fences were going to be to my survival of raising toddler twins. At least with a fence, they’re contained and safe from streets. They can run away all they want within in a fence and my anxiety level doesn’t rise. Life isn’t surrounded by a fence though and her running wasn’t specific to parks. Oh no.
She’s run off inside Target because cute sunglasses caught her eye and at Hy-vee because she thought it was super fun being on the opposite end of the aisle as mommy who couldn’t run with her cart to catch her. She was the kid who hears “Stop. Don’t. No.” and laughs while running faster. A game of chase for her as she says “I run because you chase me!” when she’s caught.
I’ll be honest, for a while I didn’t take the twins anywhere alone. Trying to keep up with and track of two-year-old twins is hard enough but when one of them is a runner you end up with whiplash. Constantly making sure they are within vision, looking side to side to make sure no one slipped away. I also have a fear of ledges so if they run off in an area that has a ledge, say steps, a hill, or even the edge of the lake, yeah that sends my anxiety through the roof. Safe to say certain trips and outings I saved for when my husband could come along too.
My twins are now four and thankfully Miss Charlie has learned the importance of listening when we ask her to stop at the end of the sidewalk. She’s learned why she can’t run away from mommy and daddy in public places even though she wants to play hide-n-seek. While I want her to be a runner in terms of chasing her dreams and feeling free, I’m so gosh darn happy she grew out of the actual running away phase. Well unless she’s found chocolate and doesn’t want anyone else to know…then she runs and hides.