When my daughter Angela was four, she gave me a card she made herself for Valentine’s Day. On the outside, she drew three red hearts; on the inside, it said, “I love you, Mom!” Angela did everything herself, copying the words from one of her books. I almost burst with pride and happiness when she gave it to me.
It’s been 14 years, and the card is still propped up on my desk at work. But Angela, I haven’t seen for nine months now.
She’s always had an independent streak in her, always been a non-conformist, didn’t care much about fads. Angela preferred to stay in her own world. Most of the time, she didn’t even let me—her mom—in.
When Angela was in grade school, she told me her favorite color was black because she didn’t want to have the same favorite color as everyone else. When her classmates were bringing talking dolls to show-and-tell, Angela would talk about her favorite book. She never got into Hello Kitty. I once bought her a Hello Kitty bag. She thanked me, and then gave it to her cousin.
I didn’t really worry about her unconventional way of thinking. In fact, Angela’s dad and I felt rather proud we had a daughter who was strong and confident enough even in her young age to follow her own thinking—even if it meant being alone sometimes.
But as proud as I felt for Angela’s being in control of her own life, I can’t help but blame that same quality for her running away from home.
Read what happens when Angela turns 18.