I wasn’t a bad teenager. It’s true that I stopped going to church and commenced to regularly breaking 7 of the 10 commandments. And, while I never got arrested, I did routinely break a couple of non-Moses laws as well. But all in all my parents had very little trouble with me.
We had an unspoken “don’t ask – don’t tell” policy. They didn’t ask me anything about my life or what I was doing when I wasn’t under their noses and I only gave them information on a need-to-know basis. It worked well for me and later, when my brothers were teenagers, it worked well for them, too.
My stupid sister, on the other hand, didn’t like this policy for some reason. When she was a teenager she made a point of telling my parents, in graphic detail, every last thing she was doing – and she was doing a lot more graphic stuff than I ever did as a teenager. She even made stuff up for added shock value. My parents just decided to believe that she was making all of it up and ignored her.
But that was all much later. When I was a teenager, the sister and brothers were still little kids. And I had to look after them a lot.
One spring a bunch of relatives came to stay with us from Germany – old relatives: a grandma and an uncle or two… maybe even an aunt. A few of them would come every once in a while, so I can’t exactly remember who was there at this particular time.
Anyway, whenever the old relatives came to visit, my parents would take them out and about to see the country, to wine and dine them and to have fun with their siblings. This meant that I was stuck looking after the kids day and night for weeks and weeks at a time.
This one particular time though, when I was in grade 12, I desperately wanted one evening off so I could go to a party. It was going to be the first bush party of the season and all my friends were going to be there and, Tom, who was in university had asked me to be his date!
Well in advance, I told my parents that I wanted this night off because it was really important and they said sure, no problem. Then, on the night of the party, as I was getting ready, they suddenly decide they were going to take the old relatives visiting and disappeared without even telling me.
Twenty minutes before Tom was scheduled to pick me up, I realized my parents weren’t home. I was pissed.
I went to my room and threw everything I owned into two big shopping bags and heaved them into the back of Tom’s car when he came to pick me up.
“What’s all that?” asked Tom.
“My stuff,” I said. “I’m running away from home.”
“Cool,” said Tom. “Where are you going to live now?”
“I don’t know yet, “ I answered.
“Cool!” said Tom.
Tom told everyone at the party that I was at this very moment running away from home. They all thought it was cool. My running away from home was the highlight of the party. It was a great party. My best friend, wanting to get in on the coolness of it all, insisted, in front of everyone, that I come home with her to live.
“Cool” I said.
So after the party, Tom drove both of us back to my friend’s house and I stayed with them a month or so until I finished my school year. And then I got a full-time job, bade them adieu and moved out on my own. (If I remember correctly, the friend’s parents dropped some pretty strong hints over the weeks that this would be a good thing to do).
It was more than a year later before I ever spoke to my parents again. Turns out it took them 2 days to notice that I had even left home. Epic I’ll-show-them gesture fail — as the kids would say. Or maybe kids don’t even say that anymore since hip wannbe adults co-opted it.
Anyhooo — did you ever run away from home? Did anyone notice? Where did you go? What did you do?
 For those not from rural areas, a bush party is just what it sounds like. A bunch of kids drive out to the middle of nowhere into a bush and party. In our town there was a designated (by generations of teenagers) area for bush parties that had been painstakingly chosen for maximum privacy. A clearing had been made in the middle of this bush and the same spot had been used for decades by all accounts. So we’d all drive in with booze and whatnot. Someone would put their car speakers on top of their car and crank up the tunes. A fire would be built in the fire pit. Some food would be on hand for later when we all suddenly got really hungry. Bush parties were the best.