Michael Wilcox, Publisher/Editor
I have a boy who is twelve. Jayden Thomas is only a year older at thirteen. I simply can’t fathom my son jumping in my car and taking off with his girlfriend for days. It’s incomprehensible that my baby- and at 12, 13, 14 they still are babies, would have the wherewithal to pull off such a stunt. I know in my heart he wouldn’t, but Jayden and Braxton, two area teens who lived a somewhat sheltered life and came from good families, did just that.
Reports had the two headed for Florida. Then they were supposedly seen driving on the Mackinac Bridge. Each day they were not found, drew more media interest. Their faces were shown on television screens and in newspapers all over the United States. ABC news and other major outlets picked up the story calling the two a modern day Romeo and Juliet.
Ultimately they were apprehended in Chicago on Saturday. A jogger saw who he thought to be Braxton standing by the side of the road. He stopped and watched Braxton go back to a black 2005 Ford Explorer with the very same license plate that the jogger had seen on the news. After nearly two weeks of driving all over, the two were found in a parked car by an extremely alert passerby. All I gotta say is the guy deserves a medal for being so observant. Most people, no 99% of Americans, would never have suspected the teen on the side of the street, was Braxton.
Teenage love is something most parents fear. You want your child to be interested in the opposite sex for sure. You want him to date several different girls, maybe starting at the age of 15 or 16. I think we would, as parents, be extremely concerned if our child had formed a tight tight bond with someone of the opposite sex at age 13.
This was certainly the dilemma that Jayden and Braxton’s parents faced. They forbade the two from seeing each other because in their minds being in love at 13, wasn’t possible. But in forbidding the teens to meet, it drove the two closer. Closer, I guess, to the point where they began scheming to run away.
Now we all have entertained thoughts of running away as teenagers. Heck most of us have tried. I would get angry at my parents, and on a couple of occasions made a decision to leave the home. But like most of us, I returned in a couple of hours. Deep down I knew my parents had my best interests at heart, and attempting to run away would be foolish. I think my son would think the same way.
But I’m sure Jayden and Braxton’s parents felt that way too. I’m sure they were very concerned that their two babies were much too close for comfort, but never would they think that the two (neither with driver’s licenses) and with very little cash would take off like they did.
As a parent, this whole episode, so close to home, tells me I should be a little more vigilant when it comes to my child. We need to discuss with our children, teenage love, drugs, smoking, drinking, bullying and other topics relevant to teens. We need to keep a watchful eye out for unusual or different behavior. We needn’t however, be so demanding that our children turn against us.
It’s great that this story had a happy ending. But now the process of mending relationships takes center stage. I wish the best for Jayden, Braxton and their parents.