Most of us can remember a time that we contemplated or succeeded at running away from home.
My brother, barely taller than the picket fence surrounding the yard, decided to leave home one day. Tiny satchel strapped to his back, he strode off with intent, the dog trotting behind him faithfully.
My mother didn't stand in his way, knowing that he was only practising what boys are destined to do – leave home to conquer the world.
Running out of confidence only metres away from home, he stopped and waited for quite a while. Eventually, when his mission was completed, he returned to safety.
I too ran away. In fact, my running away was not voluntarily. I was "kicked" out.
As a very sociable child, I loved playing at a friend's house. Our town was small, streets were safe and hardly anyone locked their doors. My curfew was 16:30 – something my mother would emphasise as I skipped off to go play somewhere in the neighbourhood.
During the course of the afternoon, I would ask the tannie to keep tabs on the time for me. By default, come 4 o' clock, I would be so engrossed in the business of being a child at play, that by the time I'd ask again, it would be way past 16:30. This would send me home in a frenzy, arriving past curfew.
Most of the time, my charm saved me. Until my luck ran out. Once I arrived finding all the doors locked. Most unusual. After I rang the doorbell, my mom opened the front door, her face stern. She handed me a suitcase announcing that I didn't live there anymore. Since I had been disobedient in keeping time, I could go back to where I had came from, she said, and closed the door.
I turned on my heel. I knew pleading wouldn't help. The only practical thing left to do, was to look what was in the suitcase.
Inside was a selection of my favourite toys, accept the one thing my mother knew I couldn't do without – my security blanket. I returned to the front door and rang the bell. My mother opened the door, her face full of expectation that I had come to admit my wrongs. But I simply announced that I wanted my "blankie" and then I would be off. I was hoping that my boldness would impress, but she didn't budge, brought the blankie and closed the door again.
Realising that this was it, I sauntered down the driveway and found a seat on the edge of the yard. Knowing that my father would be home soon, I was bargaining on his pity to save me from my dire situation. Fortunately, it worked. Shortly after this, I was kitted with a digital wristwatch.
The disappearance of a teenage girl from Dana Bay this week, made big news. Although details surrounding her leaving home after midnight with only a backpack remain vague, this didn't stop the community from reacting with concern and criticism in equal measure. Luckily she was found, according to information, unharmed.
Kids are meant to leave home, however, not prematurely. And as for the baggage they eventually take with them, whether it be a satchel, a backpack or a suitcase, pray it be filled with the tools to navigate their path out of harm's way.