We Are Both Right

Kids Home Alone? No Kevin McCallister’s in Our House

Last week was a tough one. My husband T. has been away since last Sunday. He’ll be back tonight. Eight days + three kids ÷ one parent =  ready to drop, but that actually wasn’t the cause of my stress. T. travels fairly often and while we miss him when he is gone, the four of us who are home when he isn’t have our routine pretty down pat. We may eat pancakes for dinner and run a little later than normal, but we get the job done.



No, my issue was less about me being tired and more about logistics. See, when we are down to one parent, it means that wherever I go, three kids must come with me. Basketball games. Scout meetings. The grocery store. The bus stop. If I’m there, so are my three little angels. And when we’ve been out for a while making our umpteenth stop, angels isn’t exactly the word I would choose to describe them.

It would be very easy for me to leave one behind when I run on short, close-to-home errands — our eldest, 10-year-old C. Although he can get distracted sometimes, he’s a good boy — responsible and he will listen to direct orders. If I needed to go to the supermarket for a half hour and he didn’t want to come, I could tell him to stay on the couch and watch television while not eating, drinking, going on the computer or answering the door or the phone unless it was me or his father. I would return from my trip to find him literally in the same place I left him, a muscle not moved.

But leaving him home alone is not a trust issue, it’s a mommy has trouble letting go issue. As it is, when I go to pick his sister up from the bus stop in the afternoons I lock him in the house. What I think is going to happen while I’m in shouting distance two houses away, I’m not certain, but at least no one else can get in.

I guess it’s the potential of what could go wrong. (Plenty.) And as someone who normally prides herself on her creative thinking, this is one of those cases where being able to come up with dozens of far-fetched scenarios in under a minute isn’t a good thing. I mean what are the chances that the stove turns itself on while the television simultaneously explodes and the toilet overflows as the ceiling collapses onto my precious boy’s head? None. Of course. (I think.)

The reality is, at some point I’m going to have to let go. I stayed home alone plenty of times as a tween — in fact I used to babysit. But I don’t think that day is coming anytime soon. My imagination is too vivid.

How old was your child when you first left him or her home alone?

Suzanne thought her son was nearly ready to stay home alone. And then she asked him what he thought.

5 Responses to “Kids Home Alone? No Kevin McCallister’s in Our House”

  1. Enyo says:

    Andy would sometimes beat me home when he was coming home from school and I was coming home from work by up to fifteen minutes. He was seven. He had a house key and a kid phone (attached to his backpack) for those rare moments when he did beat me. As for leaving him home alone, I was comfortable with it when he was ten. Of course, I live in a rather quiet neighborhood, so that helps a lot.

  2. amanda says:

    @enyo: We’ve been thinking about C. a key, but my concern there is that he’ll lose it! We are fortunate that his best friend lives two houses away so if I am running behind he can just go there and vice versa.

  3. Trishasmith talfergie TrishabenzSmith@yahoo.com says:

    There is no state law specifying at what age children can be left at home alone. However,we know they are responsible and mature enough to handle emergency. The first time I leave my son at home alone was when he reached 13. I am confident to leave him at home alone because I provided him a panic button alert on his cell phone. When an emergency occurs, he will just press it and his trusted friends and family members will be notified that he is in danger. If it’s a life-threatening situation, the incident will be escalated to the nearest 911. This is a life-saving phone application that I do provide for my son that really helps mitigate my worries.


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