Lately my daughter has been threatening to leave the house.
If she was sixteen I would probably just consult the parenting books, assume it’s normal teenage angst, and ignore her. But she’s not sixteen. She’s six. Barely.
Despite living in a 1930s house with all the door handles located mere inches from the ceiling (sidenote: I thought people were shorter in the olden days), the only two doors which have average height handles are the two front doors. (Yes, we have two. One for each of my personalities).
This means, it is very easy for my alarmingly tall six year old to let herself out whenever she chooses. Like in the middle of the family BBQ on the weekend.
Distressed that her three year old sister - whose single brief in life is to irritate her – was annoying her, she left in a huff and stood just outside the front door, where she could be seen, huddled against the Perth winter rain, barefoot and wearing a very sparkly party dress.
When I went to see her, and try and coax her inside, she told me she wanted to leave the house. I kindly pointed out she had already done so. She then upped the ante and began moving around the verandah, down the front steps and into the garden. The last I saw of her (as I was called back inside to sort out a rabid one year old who was upset she wasn’t allowed to help Daddy with the BBQ) was of the Bombshell, standing at the very edge of the carport. One foot on our land, one foot ‘out there.’
In her eyes, the world outside our house has no annoying sister, no Mum telling her to pick up her toys, no set bedtime, no forced consumption of weird foods like mayonnaise, a room to herself and an endless supply of TV. As far as I can tell, the only place like this is jail, but they probably have mayonnaise there.
In my eyes, the world outside our house is cold and full of cars going very fast around corners and is far, far bigger than a six year old could possibly imagine, and full of things that she doesn’t yet need to know.
With the help of the Awesome Aunties we eventually lured her back in with the promise of Lego. But she assured us she still hated her sister and thought life was much better when there was only one kid.
Later that night, when I was pursing more intellectual pursuits and watching ANTM, she snuck out of bed for a chat. Even though the crisis had been averted, she calmly told me that the following morning she was going to leave the house for a whole month.
And so I did what I will probably do when she says this to me as a sixteen year old.
I said ‘yes’.
I told her that she could probably go and live with the Young Aunty and Uncle, and even though they lived almost 40 minutes away, they worked around the corner from her school, so they’d probably be able to drop her off at Year One every day.
I then told her how much I would miss her, but I was sure she’d be very happy as an only child.
She sat silently for a few minutes after that.
She hasn’t mentioned moving out since.
Which is probably lucky, because if she calls my bluff with the whole living-with-the-aunty-and-uncle thing, I would have some serious explaining to do, as they don’t know a thing about my brilliant plan.