“You’re Not My Family!”

I was scrolling through my newsfeed on Facebook and came across this article. The headline reads “Police: Presumed kidnapper was actually helping lost child.

It reminded me of a story from when Jonny was younger.

Once, when Jonny was about 3, he nearly won the “it’s time to leave” fight that all kids have with their parents when they don’t particularly feel like leaving a fun place.

We were at a climbing toy in the local mall. I told Jonny that it was time to leave. He wouldn’t budge.

He said he didn’t want to leave, so I told him “Okay, well Daddy is leaving. buh-bye!” This would usually prompt him to stop and come with me, even if he didn’t particularly want to leave. I’m sure all parents have done this.

But he called my bluff. “But… you’re my FAMILY!”

In his mind, I was threatening to leave him … like LEAVE him. Forever.

And so, I couldn’t have him thinking that, so I went back and said, “Yes, we are family, and I won’t leave you, but it is time to leave HERE.”

And with that, I picked him up and started toward the car. He wasn’t amused.

Jonny decided that he still didn’t want to leave. Given the conversation we just had, he decided he wanted to stay and indeed wanted me to leave him there, in spite of being “family.”

He proceeded to start flailing on my shoulder and screaming “YOU’RE NOT MY FAMILY!! YOU’RE NOT MY FAMILY!!” Full on tantrum. In his mind, he was telling me that he would rather “not be family” and to leave him there rather than leave and “be family.”

Not wanting to make a scene, I started moving more quickly towards the car carrying him “sack-o-potatoes” style while he’s beating on my back and screaming.

If you have seen me and my son together, it is not immediately apparent that we are even related, if you didn’t already know.

So this could seem suspicious to the average passer-by.

We had to walk through part of the mall and an entire department store. On more than one occasion, I had to placate the concerned customers that “yes, he’s my son. Please just ignore us. I’m not trying to kidnap him.”

I’m not sure if the cops were called or not, but I have never been in more of a hurry to be leaving.

And since that day, I have never again used the “well, if you don’t come here right now, I’m leaving” parenting trick.

Well-played kid.

Well played.

Jason Reynolds
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Jason Reynolds

Jason is a freelance photographer and graphic designer. He is also a parent of Jonny (9) and Jonah (4) who was diagnosed with Autism in December 2016.
Jason Reynolds
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