|It could happen|
(This photo provided by jusben)
I react in one of two methods. The preferred method, of course, is to firmly tell him to come back. This works once in a while, especially if I have something valuable nearby to bait him with, like gummy snacks or a bumblebee. But usually, he continues to watch me as he takes sideways steps away. Although he's good about staying on the sidewalk, there is always a chance that he will make a break for the street and I know that at that moment an 18-wheeler or a derailed train will hurtle itself down our quiet neighborhood street and strike him. Worse still, and more realistic, a passing car could recklessly hop the curb and get him. Although I realize this could happen with me standing next to him, my mother-bear mentality tells me that I would be able to stop the errant vehicle and save my boy.
But, after exhausting my attempts to get Ryan to come back, including counting to three, threatening a time-out, and using the old standard "I'm leaving, goodbye," the possibility of Ryan being struck dead forces me to rely on the second method and last resort in getting a child to come back to his mama.
I run after him.
Running, of course, is just what he wants me to do. Like most moms, I lose all credibility and authority when I run, especially when he also starts running and I end up chasing him down our block, passed the neighbor's houses and the playground crowded with teenagers across the street. I have never been much of a runner. As a high school field hockey goalie, most of my running occurred wearing large leg pads, forcing me to run with my legs somewhat apart. Fifteen years later, my husband confirms that I still run like this and likens me to Chilly Willy anytime I move faster than a light jog.
I'm convinced Ryan knows this and that's why he runs. He looks over his shoulder at me, laughing, and suddenly we've gone from Mother and Son to two crazy people running down the sidewalk sharing a good time. When I catch up to him, it's impossible to compose myself and give him the stern lecture he deserves. On a good day, I scoop him up without speaking, carry him back to the house, and plop him in his timeout chair. But most of the time, I start laughing before I get to him, which causes him to laugh harder, and we collapse to the ground together in a fit of giggles.
This is, of course, not the right way to do things. But I know that way too soon, Ryan will be able to run much faster than me. I won't be able to catch him and he won't want me to. So for now, I run.