We’re having a frank conversation.
‘Did you ever run away from home, Mummy?’ she asks. We’re having lunch, just the two of us because it’s a Tuesday and she’ll head back to school in an hour (Swiss school hours…go figure).
‘No, but once when I was about your age I packed a bag and hid it around the side of our house,’ I tell her. I remember it well, that feeling of excitement and anticipation, deliberating over what to include and what to leave out, already mourning the loss of everything I knew, but picturing myself sleeping under a hedge and chewing on the sandwich I would make sure to include. After the sandwich the dream always became a little blurry, although I knew that there would be many adventures, that it would never rain, and that I would find kindred spirits along the way. Just like in all the books I’d read.
‘I’ve thought about it,’ she tells me, ducking her head just a little because, naturally, running away from home also means leaving her parents behind, and that’s sad. But I can see in her eyes that she’s had the same dreams I had when I was her age, and that makes me very happy.
‘What happened?’ she asks, and I tell her that by the time night time rolled around I’d reconsidered, figuring it was probably more fun to read about it than actually do it. And then I tell her that I think my mother actually knew what I was planning and she laughs at the idea of Grandma watching me pack my bag and make my sandwich.
‘I don’t think I’ll do it, either,’ she says, and I tell her I’m glad because I’d really miss her, but that I understand why she might want to, because books make anything seem possible.