To a daughter who took off for Wyoming:

Your mother is a very good detective, thanks to a few years of working with inter-city youth when you were young. She never thought she would have to use these skills to find you. But she did and we know where you are.

She was very upset when you snuck out without telling anyone. She assumed the worst, and frankly, I did as well. Those were a few very frightening hours for both of us because we love you. We want the best for you, and we certainly don't want you in any danger.

I am relieved to hear that you have only run away and not something else horrible, directly from my list of horrible things that could happen. I have seen way too many crime shows to stay calm when someone disappears.

As a parent, if I step aside from how scared I feel, I would have to say that I am pleased you are being assertive. I think you should have taken those reins years ago. I am glad that you are trying to take control of your life - something you always had the ability to do.

Of course, the way you did it was problematic, and we might want to chat about that when you come back. Now that we know where you are, let's talk about what you need, and, while we are at it, a little about what we need as your parents.

Concerning this guy; he sounds like a nice boy - for someone who was OK letting you sneak out without telling anyone where you were or what you were doing. It might be a good thing if, when we meet, we do it in a public place. Maybe we should hold off on introductions all together until you mother is assured that I am not packing.

Right now I am just so happy that we know where you are and that you are safe that I am tempted to say, "Just come on home and don't worry about anything!" But if you are home for a couple of weeks and we go back to the way things were, someone is going to explode and it will be bad.

So what needs to happen to make your life here more than just marking time?

Personal Space

I am OK with you taking over the basement. You need your space - and I would like your old bedroom for an office, so we agree. However, I don't want to have to bring in a bulldozer once a month to clean the basement out. If you claim the space as yours you will need to keep it relatively clean. If I hear any raccoons in there I might set up an appointment to tour it - as your landlord.

Personal Health

We need to get your health to a manageable level. Lots of people feel depression. There are things we can do to help, and we can start by getting you a licensed professional. Let's be proactive and find a good doctor for what ails you.

Education and Employment

This one is huge. Honey, you need to make the most of life. You need to find something that you are passionate about - and it can't be Facebook or phone games. You need money that is your own to spend. There needs to be something you love to do that makes a difference.

I can commit to a few things as well. Here is my "dad list" of what I can do to help. (I am a dad. Dads make lists).

  • Set your bedroom up in the basement and prepare to have a wall painted purple or some other ghastly color.

  • Support you in feeling better health-wise and find a doctor that you like.

  • Help you find something you love to do.

  • Show you every day how much I love you - every day.

  • Don't kill the boyfriend dude.

If you come home I will abide by this. If there is something else I can do, talk to me. Perhaps we can add it to the list.

Now, I am going to go take a well-deserved pill. But before I do, let me sum up: Be kind to your mother; I like the fact that you have a boyfriend - though if you think anything of him at all you will keep him away from me for a while.

Come home. I will try to do better. And I love you very much.

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