She told her folks she would be playing at her girlfriends house for the whole afternoon. She lied. She was going to be in so much trouble, but she had no idea when she lied that they would go to her friends house looking for her!
But, that is exactly what happened. And she wasn't there. Her friends mom told her folks where she was. Of course it was somewhere they had forbidden her to ever go. Into the woods where the hobos stayed when they jumped off the train and waited for the next one to come along and take them somewhere else on a new and different adventure. She loved to go into those woods. The hobos were nice. They weren't mean and awful and they certainly weren't looking to hurt any kids. They liked kids. They liked the way the kids listened to their many tales of where they had been and what they had done. The kids were a great audience. Grown-ups just wouldn't appreciate the stories these men told and their way of life. But to a kid it was a magical way of life....something a kid could dream of doing instead of having to grow up and be responsible. It sounded like so much more fun than the lives their parents led.
So that's where they found her.....sitting around the hobos campfire with her friend. They told her and her friend in a calm voice to get up and go home. The girls didn't hesitate to move. Mom and dad were much too calm and she knew she and her friend were in some deep trouble. She walked the few blocks to her friends house and left her there and headed home to wait for her folks to arrive.
It was some time before her folks got there. They had stopped at her friends house and spoke with her mother before heading home to deal with her.
They came in and at first just stood there and looked at her without saying anything. How she wished they would say something.....anything! But they just looked at her with that disappointed look parents get when you've really screwed up and you know it. Then they said "What do you have to say for yourself?" and then they walked into the kitchen and poured a couple cups of coffee for themselves and waited for her to come into the kitchen. They never told her to come to the kitchen, it was just something she knew she would have to do. Why oh why had she gone into those woods? She was sorry, but sorry wasn't going to cut it this time.
She entered the kitchen and sat at the table staring at the table top so she wouldn't have to look at them and see the disappointment on their faces. It seems she was always disappointing them in some way. She wasn't perfect like her older sister and she wasn't the baby. She was stuck in the middle and even when things weren't her fault, she got blamed for them just because of her birth order! It wasn't fair. But then it wasn't fair of her to lie to her folks about where she was going either. Maybe someday she would learn. If only she had already learned to listen to what they told her she wouldn't be in this mess. But here she was.....ready to face her punishment.
Then they dropped the bombshell on her. They asked her what kind of punishment that she thought would be fair to her. WHAT? This is a terrible spot to be in. Trying to think of an answer that would be fair to her and fair to them. They didn't ask for one that would be fair to them, but it was just one of those things she knew they would expect. Besides if she acted mature enough and was fair enough about the punishment maybe they wouldn't be quite so hard on her and would tell her that what she had come up with was too harsh afterall.
She decided that grounding for 2 weeks and having to clean up supper dishes without any help from her sisters for the next 2 weeks would be sufficient. And guess what? They agreed. No, but wait, I didn't really mean it, she thought to herself. It was just a starting point. They were supposed to say no and feel sorry for her and give her a much lesser punishment. She couldn't be expected to really have doled out her own punishment, but that's what they did. And then they told her that she was being much harder on herself than they would have been.
She cried herself to sleep that night. And she did learn.....that was the last lie she ever told them.