Chilkat reached a new developmental stage this week: She ran away from home.
She and Chilkoot were playing. Chilkoot had a toy, and he was pretending it was from a different TV show. This was clearly unacceptable in the mind of Chilkat, and she grew quite angry. She started to yell at him, as she often does to exert superiority and get Her Way. KrisDi and I stepped in to defend his individuality and assert that yes, in fact, Chilkoot is allowed to imagine things independently, even if Chilkat doesn’t like those imagined things.
Chilkat then proclaimed things like, “I wish you weren’t my brother!” and “I wish I didn’t have a family and I lived alone!” She started edging towards the door, saying she’s going to run away and she’s never coming back. Each little half-step toward the door, she exclaimed a little more, a little longer, a little louder.
KrisDi and I of course saw this as a form of tantrum that could mostly be ignored, and should not be indulged with any kind of a serious response. We tried halfheartedly (and bemusedly) to calm her down.
Chilkoot, on the other hand, is three years old and he thought his sister was leaving for real forever, and he was devastated. He was sobbing that he didn’t want her to leave, and that he loved her. I picked him up and tried to explain that Chilkat was not really leaving, just that she was angry and saying things she didn’t mean. He trusted Chilkat’s strident, angry voice over my calm, rational one, and remained very upset.
Chilkat made it to the door after about two minutes of approaching it, continued hollering about how horrible her life was with us, then opened the door and stepped outside. And continued complaining, standing outside on the patio in her socks as it rained a few feet farther out. Then she closed the door, and peered through the window, to see if anyone was doing anything about it.
After a minute or two, she knocked on the door and came back in to tell us how horrible her life was, before going to the end of the patio (but leaving the door open).
I asked her, “Where are you going to sleep tonight?”
She came back inside, closed the door, and sat in the corner next to the door. “This is my whole life — right here! I’m never leaving here again, and I want you to leave me alone forever!”
Chilkoot then asked her where she was going to sleep tonight. Rather than answering verbally, she just laid her head down on the boots next to her.
I asked, “How are you going to get dinner?”
“You have to bring it to me right here, but I’m going to eat it here and I’m going to eat it alone because this is where I’m going to be forever!”
“What are you going to do when you need to go to the bathroom?”
She thought a moment. “I’m going to go over there [pointing at the bathroom], but then I’m going to come right back here!”
“What about school? Your mom and I are legally obligated to make sure you go to school.”
“What does ‘legally obligated’ mean?”
“It means that if we don’t do it, we might go to jail. Do you want us to go to jail?”
“FINE, I’ll go to school, but when I’m not at school, I’m going to stay right here!”
I think around then, I lost interest. About 20 minutes later, she and Chilkoot were playing like nothing had happened.