• Terry Groves

B.R.A.T.S. When We Knew It All

Updated: Sep 6, 2019

Do you remember when you were young and knew everything? Yeah, me too.

In grade six, while living in Clinton PMQs, my best friend, Paul A, and I decided we had had enough of our parents running our lives. We concocted a plan where we would run away from home, 'borrow' his uncle's boat, and escape down the Mississippi, where we would find our fame and fortune.

We each had a small amount of cash from newspaper routes, cutting grass, and allowances, that we would use to sustain ourselves until we were able to find work. I was never entirely clear on just how we were going to get from Clinton to the Mississippi, but I trusted that Paul had that part of the plan fully in hand.

On the fated night of our departure, I slipped out of the house at about 1am and headed to Paul's. As planned, I hooted like an owl outside his bedroom window to let him know I was there. I hooted again. And again. No Paul.

Despondent, I decided I better head home before I was missed and we could plan for another night. Arriving at home I realized I had locked the door behind me. Mad as I was at my family, I didn't want them to be hurt by any wandering miscreants. Worse, I didn't have a key. After checking all the lower story and basement windows for a point of ingress, I resorted to ringing the doorbell. Of course, it was Mom who answered. Had it been one of my brothers I might have gotten away with it.

Of course, just like a mom, she had to ask what I was doing outside at 1:30 in the morning. I thought about lying but I didn't think she would buy an alien abduction story or that I had woken to find myself sleepwalking down the street. I fessed up.

Surprisingly, she was concerned that I was feeling as I was and she engaged me in a conversation about my feelings of mistreatment. And she wasn't accusatory. She listened, asked relevant questions, and really showed me she cared. I didn't mention anything about Paul A being my accomplice. No point in getting him in trouble.

I didn't get in trouble, in fact, life got better. I still had to mind, but some of the things that were bothering me disappeared from my life. I no longer remember exactly what they were, but I recall that life got better, much of my anxiety went away.

At school the next day I spoke with Paul A. He stated he had confided in his brother about our plan and that his brother had turned off his alarm clock so it didn't wake him at the appointed hour. He still had all his stuff, the tent, food and cooking utensils we had gathered for our trip, and that he was going to run away and camp in the woods. He was going to leave the next morning, before school. He told me where he was going to be, and how to signal him when I came to visit and bring him more stuff (I still had half of the supplies). The signalling involved more hooting.

Sure enough, he wasn't at school the next day. At lunch, I was home since we lived so close to the school, Paul's mom showed up at our house. She had been concerned when Paul hadn't come home for lunch and contacted the school. Finding out he hadn't been there that morning, she was very concerned. She was VERY concerned, crying and almost in hysterics. She knew Paul and I were good friends and needed to know if I knew anything.

I didn't want to rat him out but she looked so scared. The gravity of what we were doing crashed down on me and I had to let her know that Paul was safe, that nothing bad had happened to him. The Military Police were with her and they grilled me. Again, I didn't want to rat him out, give up his hiding spot, but I thought it would be better for everyone if he came home. His mom had said a lot of things, wondering why he had run away, and when I told her some of the things he had said to me, she seemed quite stunned. She had no idea he felt that way. Like me, he hadn't talked the problems out with his parents.

I told the MP where he was, and that once he got to a certain point, he had to hoot like an owl and Paul would come. I don't know if that's what happened, the image of an MP hooting into the woods still cracks a smile on my face, but they did find Paul. He came home and he told me life became measurably better for him too. He never held it against me that I gave him up, he understood what it did to me, seeing his mom so distraught.

Who knew you could make things better by talking things out with your parents? I learned they really weren't the enemy (a really already knew this, just didn't know how to talk some things out). Turns out I didn't know everything like I thought. Imagine that.

As for Paul A, we were friends pretty much my whole time in Clinton but when I moved, we lost touch and I haven;t been able to relocate him despite phoning every Paul A in Canada that I could find a number for (sorry for the pestering calls if you received one and are not THE Paul A). Perhaps, if this post gets shared enough, he will know I would like to reconnect. Can you help me out?

What 'aha' type moments do you recall from your childhood?

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