This is how we began. Or ended. Or whatever. We were at Noodles. Time to leave. The littlest one, Neviyah, decided to be "cute" and run in the opposite direction. All the way to the counter, down a small hall, all the way to the other section, and into the last booth (by crawling on their germ-infested carpet to get there).
Fast forward to me, the idiot-mom, walking slowly (so as not to appear to be chasing), past the counter, down the hall, to the other section, to the last booth. I looked her in the eye and said, "Come to Mamma now, please." She didn't have to think about it. She knew. She came out.
"Wait." I told her. "Do you know why you should never run away when a parent is calling you?"
She looked at me with her big eyes. I had a choice at that moment. A choice to scare her with things she cannot even imagine (getting lost, getting kidnapped) or put it into terms she could understand even if it is a rather weak reason not to do this behavior. I chose the latter.
"Because," I started, "if you run away from your parent and then you fall down and get hurt, your parent may be too far away to help you. You would be hurt and your parent would be far away from you."
I could see the wheels turning.
We stopped at Walgreens on the way home. She told her daddy, "Papa, you never run away from your parents because you could fall down and get hurt, and your parent would be far, far away. That would make me sad."
She was serious. Her face was very serious. I could see her imagining it in her head. It made TOTAL sense to her. For her, that is a real reason she could grasp. Immediately.
Two more times she spouted off my propaganda. (Well, she also used the word "freaking" twice but we'll just pretend that didn't happen!) We'll see if she remembers it when it counts -- the next time she has the urge to run the opposite direction when I call her!