Thursday, February 4, 2010

On The Run

Years ago, at my first teaching job, the staff used a phrase to describe a behavior of the students. The phrase "on the run," was used when a student (and these were kids who were either just out of jail or treatment or on their way in to jail or treatment yet still in public school) would perform some misdeed and then bolt. Usually the student would just run wildly up and down the hallway of the school until they could be contained by the staff. Occasionally the student would dream big and escape into the larger school complex. (Our school was housed in a huge building with two other public schools. The other two schools taught regular ed. kids and the staff and students in those schools were always amazed/horrified when one of our "inmates" would come screaming into their school.) When this happened, it required some coordination amongst staff, as there were about 16,853 places for our creative students to hide and/or wreak havoc.

Even with the elevated adrenaline and sky-rocketing blood pressure that these runs surely caused, they were secretly appreciated by the staff because they broke up the monotony of the day and they allowed us to admire our most hardcore students for something--it could be their speed or their creativity in choosing a hiding place or even (and sometimes especially) their humor in the insults that they would hurl at anyone within range.

Most of the time when a student went on the run it was just the next thing on their menu of misbehavior. Usually they had already verbally assaulted someone, thrown furniture, or physically assaulted someone and going on the run was just the next thing on the list. But sometimes, I truly believe, that a student would go on the run just for the sheer joy of running. They'd run for the freedom. They'd run to break up the monotony. They'd run to try to get someone else to "come out and play" with them. Often they were successful with this last motivation. And nothing was more frustrating and secretly hilarious than chasing two or more students who had gone on the run.

It's been a long time since I worked at that school. It was my first teaching job--although I'm not entirely sure how much time was spent in instruction or exactly how much learning took place--and I am old, so it was a long time ago. Strangely, I am seeing the phenomenon again in my own home. Care to venture a guess as to who is going on the run?

Take a look:

This usually happens in the late afternoon after everyone has returned home from work or school. Tilly has had it with being alone. She runs for the sheer joy of it. She wants her freedom to run (which, unfortunately because of her propensity to run and not come back, she cannot have). She wants to break up the monotony of her day, which primarily consists of eating, pooping, barking at random shadows, and snoozing in strategic places so that she might cause tripping. She tries desperately to get someone else to "come out and play." Luckily for her, her wild cases of the zoomies generally stir sympathies and she winds up with a playmate.

It's hilarious to watch but a little unnerving to hear. Especially overhead. When Tilly is going on the run in the upstairs hallway it sounds as if cattle are stampeding. Or perhaps it is the sound of lots of shoes being chucked down the hall. Not that that has ever happened around here. Ahem. Whatever. When you hear it and you aren't prepared, your nervous system takes over and you automatically duck and cover. It's pretty funny really.

Unless you are entertaining guests. Not that that has never happened around here.


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