Why I Let A Stark Raving Lunatic Run Through Our Yard

Around here, we don’t have many neighborhood disturbances. Things are calm. No domestic disputes (except ours), unsupervised children run amok (except ours) or overgrown lawns in desperate need of a weed-whacking (except ours). Then again, we don’t have any neighbors. Oh sure, we consider each other “neighbors,” but we never have to worry about whether or not anyone can see us sitting at the kitchen table in our underwear eating Apple Jacks (my daughter, not me).

If we had actual next-door neighbors, they would have been in for a treat last night. Right at dusk, a stark raving lunatic ran through our yard. And across our yard. And around our yard. Her face seemed eerily void of all emotion, almost as if she was trying to block out some trauma that had just occurred. She zigged, she zagged. She upset our poor black lab and sent her into hysterics in her kennel.

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I probably should have called the cops, but something told me she was harmless. Just a crazy, emotionally spent woman who needed to run, and run, and run, and run. And besides, I just didn’t have the heart to call the authorities…on myself.

It had been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad evening at the Poland household. My eldest daughter was overly tired and very hungry, the perfect storm for a monsoon meltdown. (We’re using the “reality discipline” approach of “no supper, no snacks” to thwart her finicky eating. The approach may just be a bit too “unrealistic” for this family.)

She bit. I yelled. She screamed. I threatened. She even went after the jugular with, “I don’t love you anymore Mommy!” (This one hurt the most.) My daughter is not a bad kid, she’s just struggling with her own lack of independence when she can understand and communicate with the world around her at a level far beyond her years.

So, after caving to her request to watch a movie in her toy room instead of go to bed (I was that desperate, judge away), I headed outside to do the watering. My husband had a highly legitimate reason to be gone, or I would have been muy resentful at his absence.

After dragging the garden hose across our wide expanse of a yard, I made a decision. I was going to find a way to shake this frustration instead of continuing to snap, crackle, pop at my daughter, or dumping it all on my husband’s head when he walked through the door.

I set the hose at the base of the first cedar, and ran. Sprinted all the way around the house. It felt great, so I kept going. Second cedar, sprint around the shop. Third cedar, sprint to the house and back. Fourth cedar, and so on. While the coyotes howled less than a quarter of a mile away, a wild animal of a different sort hoofed it all over our five acre spread. By the time I finished watering, I was tame.

My unconventional workout soothed my frayed nerves, and helped me revert back to “calm mom” from “old yeller.” This new-found patience and peace of mind couldn’t have come at a better time, when after my daughter was supposed to be in bed, she snuck into the bathroom during my long, hot shower,  pulled back the curtain and said, “Read me a book, mommy.” So I did. And we ended the night with cuddles and kisses, just as I’d hoped.

Lesson learned? The next time a stark raving lunatic is running through your yard, let her. Let her scream, let her vent, let her get it all out of her system. As someone’s grandfather used to say (sounds more credible that way), “Better to have a lunatic outside than in.”

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6 thoughts on “Why I Let A Stark Raving Lunatic Run Through Our Yard

  1. I work at a mental health facility and I can tell you that we regularly recommend exercise to burn off frustration, anxiety, and extra energy. So…good job! :) Also, you taught your kids one of the most valuable lessons ever: just because you’re having a bad day doesn’t mean you have to make everyone else have a bad day. There are better ways to burn off the mad then snapping at other people.

    • Well, Diana, this explains why you can relate to so much of my writing. ;-) I hope my comparison didn’t offend, my family has a history of mental illness, and I know it’s no laughing matter. And I’m not sure I taught her any lessons, other than “mommy needs a timeout!”

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