We Are Both Right

Summer Camp Mommy and Daddy (No Sewn-In Nametags Required)

©kevinrohr/stock.xchng

We spend a lot of time in our backyard over the summer. But really, is that so bad? ©kevinrohr/stock.xchng

My two older kids are the perfect candidates for summer camp. Ages ten and eight, they are both athletic and social and love arts & crafts and campfires and s’mores and swimming and everything else that comes with riding a big bus to a spot in the woods where they spend a week or more with hundreds of their peers.

Too bad I’m not on board with it.

That’s not entirely true. I would love for my kids to go to camp, but honestly, a lot has to do with finances and a lot (A LOT) has to do with me missing them and being a crazy mother.

C. had the opportunity to go with the Boy Scouts for a week to a camp a few states away. It sounded like 10-year-old boy heaven: fishing, swimming, hiking, whittling (seriously), bunk beds and a host of other activities that you can only manage to do (get away with) when your mother isn’t within a 500 yard radius. My husband thought it was a great idea, me not so much.

Is it because I don’t want my son to be happy (as some may or may not have accused me of)? No, not at all. This is his first year of Boy Scouts (he just crossed over in March), he’s only been on one camping trip without us, he doesn’t always have the best track record when it comes to sleeping away from home and (most importantly I think) the boys aren’t allowed to call their parents. This isn’t just no cell phones policy, they can’t even jump on a pay phone for a quick check in. And I have a real problem with that. (But will save that rant for another time.)

Now obviously there are other options. Different sleepaway camps, day camps in our area — but like I said before, finances are definitely in play here. So instead, each child will get to choose one or two smaller camps — for my son it will most likely be a week-long daily baseball camp run by his Little League and a week-long, half-day cartooning camp at a local art studio and for my daughter it will also be a camp at the art studio and something else that she hasn’t decided yet.

The rest of the time off will resemble the summers of my own childhood — trips to the beach (and we are fortunate enough to live five minutes away from a free one so we are there quite often), picnics at the playground, a few spins at a local amusement park and on the hottest days, visiting places where the A/C is blasting — the library, the mall, the movies. Sometimes we will simply stay home and partake in reading, video game playing and bike riding. My husband starts his month-long vacation in July so there will definitely be a lot of family activities too with the five of us spending quality time together.

Celebrating the lazy days of summer — sleeping in, no set schedule, just letting go of everything.

Thank goodness they aren’t going to camp — I can’t wait!

Do your kids go to summer camp? Where? For how long?

After reading Suzanne’s post about the summer camp her kids go to, I may sign up for the program myself! Sorry kiddies!

Discovering the Joys of Summer Camp

What's your version of summer camp for the kids -- at home or away? ©icekitty37/stock.xchng

My kids tell me summer camp is fun. And from my perspective in the parking lot dropping them off every morning, I would have to agree.

To be absolutely truthful, I’m actually a little jealous of them. OK, a lot jealous.

I never had that type of camp experience. When I was growing up — at least in my town and in my circle of friends — camp was a foreign concept. We had backyards, we had moms who stayed home, we had neighborhood friends. Fill up the collapsible above-ground pool with some cold water from the hose and we were set.

And on really hot days, my mother took me and my brother and sister to the library to cool off.  After scooping up anything Beverly Cleary and a few architectural magazines, we’d go home where I would claim my spot on the floor of my parents’ bedroom, right where the air conditioning wall unit blew a stream of nice cool air under the bed, to pore over floor plans for an hour or two.  I know — now I’m making you jealous, right?

But as far as the child in me was concerned, this was the epitome of a fun summer.

I remember literally turning up my nose at the thought of spending a whole summer in camp when I heard about other kids (in far-away regions) who left their parents to spend weeks on end living in a mosquitoe-y cabin and swimming in a murky lake somewhere.

Fast forward to 2009. I get out of my car a few days after L.’s last day of first grade. There’s a Top 40 soundtrack blaring from overhead speakers and Spiderman standing on top of a school bus filled with day campers. The pools are glistening in the morning sunlight, the smells of breakfast waft through the air, and the rock wall and sky trail have caught my son’s eye.

Boy, do I want to be him.

In a few weeks, we’ll be back in the same spot as he starts his third summer at this same day camp. He can’t wait to see his camp friends and be eligible for the baseball tournament this year. He is proud of the fact that he graduated to the big pool and can start diving instruction. This from the kid who had every excuse in the book to not swim when I brought him to swimming lessons in the year before he started camp.

Camp has given him a leg up on me in tennis (although my skill level isn’t that hard to match). By the end of last summer, I might have mistaken him for a California native on the beach volleyball court. He has full access to batting cages, go-karts, in-line skating ramps and a dek hockey court. You name it, they do it. Did I mention cooking class, puppet shows, nature walks and woodworking?

And as if his stories at the end of the day weren’t convincing enough, I get to see the fun for myself in the hundreds of pictures posted by the camp in an online photo gallery every day. And I couldn’t be happier for him. Because although his days are structured, maybe even more than when he’s in school, there’s nothing about camp that he doesn’t like.

Except when it ends. The last day, somewhere around the third week in August when the counselors all have to get ready to go back to college, is tough. The kids cry. The boys too.

(Me? Well I’m secretly celebrating, because most of the time, that’s the start of my vacation week from work.) But I try to entice him with all the fun things mom has planned for his two weeks of freedom before school starts up again. Picking berries at the farm. A trip to the water park. A quiet weekend in the city at the museums. A road trip down the shore.

But I can still count the hours until the first “I’m bored.” At which point I always suggest the library and a cold hose.

Do your kids go to summer camp? Did you?

Looks like Amanda and I might be going to camp together. But that means the kids are staying home.

Watch Out For Those Wiffle Balls

Right now I’m trying to think of all the ways a child could get hurt with a wiffle ball, or even a wiffle bat for that matter.

I’m coming up blank. Any ideas?

Maybe I should check with the New York State Department of Health which recently tried to classify games like wiffle ball and dodgeball as dangerous sports. They must have had good reason to dedicate the time and effort to proposing new regulations that require youth recreational programs to have a medical professional onsite if such games are being played,  or — and here’s where it all starts to make sense — pay a fee instead.

If you take a look at this list, kids also get hurt at camp changing their clothes. Go figure. But if my son flips over the wall while playing ga-ga ball (his favorite camp activity, which is an Israeli game I knew nothing about until he started going to summer camp) might I ask the State to cover the cost of bandages for his wounds? Is that what the fees would go toward? Probably not. Because this just sounds like another way for a government body to make money.

They’ll really stretching it now though. And being mighty contradictory, if you ask me. While they’re banning sugar from schools and taking sodium out of restaurant food, they are also putting up roadblocks to kids exercising. Are we not still concerned about the national obesity epidemic?

So when you actually convince your child that running around playing tag (another risky game in question) on a hot summer day is better than sitting inside in the air conditioning playing video games, get ready to pay more.  Because if a regulation like this does ever get implemented it’s going to cost more for the camp (and ultimately for you when the fees get passed along) for them to do this. For no reason. It’s not even like paying more for fruit than potato chips because it’s a healthier choice.

Luckily the public outcry was enough to put this idea on the back burner for now. Depending on how bad the deficit gets, I wouldn’t be surprised if it ultimately becomes policy.

Do you think this is a good way to ensure our kids’ safety? Or is it just another money maker?

Our Two Cents: When Kids Outgrow Their Friends

Do these boys have to be friends for convenience? © homer_seav @ stock.xchng

Dear Suzanne and Amanda:

My best friend “Daisy” and I each have a son who is 10. We live around the block from one another, the boys go to the same school and are in many of the same activities. Daisy and I help each other out often. We both work part-time outside of the home and have come to depend on one another when we are in a bind childcare-wise — she’ll pick my son “George” up after school and mind him until I get home, I’ll drive her son “Fred” to baseball practice, etc. It’s a good, informal arrangement and has served us very well over the years.

The problem? My son doesn’t like her son. It wasn’t always this way — little kids seem to make friends with everybody — but as they’ve gotten older, Fred and George have made their own friends and cultivated their own interests. Fine. But they just don’t get along.

I’ve been trying to find other people for George to go home with, but I don’t think Daisy realizes that the boys aren’t best buddies and is hurt that I’m seemingly avoiding her. What do I do?

–Friends No More

Suzanne:

While that’s certainly an awkward situation to be in, I think that some honest communication all around would make it more comfortable for everyone. First, would it be so terrible if you could each still depend upon one other for childcare like you used to — maybe not as frequently — but once in a while?

If you’re not absolutely opposed to that, then you should start by having a conversation with your son. Explain that sometimes friends grow apart and even though he and Fred aren’t the best of friends any more, maybe there’s some common ground they can find for the hour that they are together. Tell him that you lost your good friend from fifth grade — all because she didn’t share your obsession with the boys of NKOTB — and that you regret it to this day. He’ll roll his eyes. But remind him that at least Fred hates Justin Bieber as much as he does.

Then, your next move should be to call Daisy. And don’t kid yourself — she may very well have noticed the disconnect between the boys herself. Just ask if she’s seen any changes between them and mention that when they’re at your house, they just don’t seem to be interested in the same things anymore. Be ready for her to say that everything seems perfectly fine, or that she really relies upon the arrangement to get by.

At that point, it’s your call — either make the best of it or be prepared to watch the relationship unravel.

Amanda:

Does your son George like going to baseball practice and after-school activities? Is he happy to not have to go home to an empty house when the school day is done? I’m guessing the answer is yes. And therein lies your answer.

Things can stay the way they are.

Yes, I understand as kids get older they sometimes outgrow friends from when they were super-small. But the reality is, it sounds like you and Daisy both need this arrangement in order to make certain things work. So George has a decision to make — does he want to continue to participate in programs and sports teams he likes to do with the stipulation that he gets to and from these events with someone who isn’t his favorite person, or does he want to sit them out altogether?

It’s not like he has to spend every second he’s at baseball practice  with Fred, they are just getting there the same way. As I remember, there are a lot kids on a team right?

And as for going someplace after school, for me that’s a no-brainer. Until you feel comfortable with him staying home alone (and it’s legally OK for him to do so), he needs to stay with an adult until you are home from work. If you are able to secure care that involves people other than Fred and Daisy, fine. But until you can (if you even choose to) feel no guilt about sending George to their home. I’m assuming at Daisy’s he’s well-cared for, fed and not forced to do manual labor. And like the activities, he doesn’t have to spend every minute he’s there with Fred. He can do his homework, read a book or find something else to entertain himself.

Lay it all out on the table. Address his concerns, but let him know where you are coming from too. That even if he isn’t a fan of the situation, life isn’t always fair and this is what you need to do in order to make your crazy schedules work. If it’s possible and not too much of a hassle, try to find another form of transportation for George — but realize you could be leaving Daisy out in the cold if she is depending on you to bring Fred places. Remind him that even if he and Fred don’t get along, he still needs to be kind to him and treat Daisy with the utmost respect. People can grow apart and still manage to behave civilly to one another.

Then you need to have a talk with Daisy. Chances are, if George has expressed displeasure and you’ve noticed the tension, she has too. But it might be she doesn’t want to say anything because she knows you guys have a good thing going and she doesn’t want to lose it either. Maybe the pair of you can brainstorm. Was there a specific incident that caused the boys to stop getting along or are they simply growing apart?

It’s definitely sad when a child outgrows a friend they’ve had for a long time, but it’s a reality of life. How you help your child handle it will set a tone that will accompany them into adulthood.

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What do you think? Should “Friends No More” find alternative care and rides for George or should he have to stick it out? Has your child ever outgrown a friend?

If you’ve got a problem that needs pondering and you need some outside perspective, send an e-mail to advice@wearebothright.com.

We’ll Use the Potty Sooner Rather than Later

Elimination communication depends on you to interpret your baby's timing, signals and cues. © BabyBjorn

I hear about potty training as a two-year-old issue and even a three-year-old issue now.

I know that my mother would be appalled to see three-year-olds running about in diapers. No child in our family has ever been in diapers past two; if I let my baby be in diapers that long, I’d never hear the end of it. Some of us were trained before one.

In fact, family tradition dictates that one of baby’s first birthday presents will be a potty chair. Potty training starts when walking starts. I was potty trained before one. Now I’m working on having my son Norton potty trained early, too.

We use elimination communication. For months now (since Norton was six months old, actually), we’ve been putting Norton on the potty before he gets a bath. For the first week, he cried when I put him on the potty. Then we figured out that it was because he was cold and naked, so we started to warm up the bathroom a bit.

He stopped crying on the potty, but he still wasn’t actually using it. Instead, he was peeing in the bath as soon as his little bottom hit the water. That was when we started putting his potty on the bathroom counter and splashing water from the sink over his little foot. It took about a month of this before we had success.

The day that Norton used the potty for the very first time was just downright euphoric. I cheered so loud that I scared my baby and made him cry, then proceeded to brag on Facebook about my little genius baby using the potty. Then he didn’t do it again for a week.

Elimination communication wasn’t easy to start, but we got him to the point where he uses his potty nearly every night. (Of course, we’d have probably gotten a better start if I didn’t brag about it on Facebook. There’s no quicker way to get my kid to stop doing something than to brag about him doing it in the first place.)

Now that he’s almost a year old, we’re trying to get him to use the potty more frequently. We’re putting him on the potty before naps and after naps, and also first thing in the morning. We aren’t necessarily having success at these times, but he’s cooperating with the experience. He’ll get it soon enough. Each time he uses the potty is a success.

There’s one huge advantage to doing it this way: Norton is already used to the potty. He’s already comfortable sitting on it, and he even holds his little foot out over the sink so that it may be splashed. When he’s officially a toddler and is really ready to be completely trained, then we’ll move forward with no hold up. Less time in diapers means less laundry for me (because I mostly use cloth) and less money literally thrown away with disposables.

It’s really not even that hard, nor is it a hard core commitment. You can use elimination communication on a part time basis, or you can go diaper free and use elimination communication all the time.

It’s not about forcing your child to be potty trained before he’s ready. It’s just recognizing your child’s cues to recognize when he or she has to go. Eventually, they’ll start communicating those cues to you so that you know that it’s time to go to the potty.

Really, potty training can be hard enough if you wait until they are old enough to be stubborn about it. Why delay it if you don’t have to?

Enyo is an ex-pat living in the Great White North. You can keep up with the adventures of Enyo, Norton, and their puppies on her blog, “Motherhood Looms: Where’s My Yarn?” or stop by to chat with her on the Motherhood Looms page on Facebook.

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In the first of our new series of guest blogs, we invite other mommy bloggers to share a different point of view on topics where Suzanne and Amanda actually find themselves agreeing (for once). Thanks to Enyo for enlightening us on the ins and outs of elimination communication — which Suzanne didn’t quite get until now.

Potty Training is So Old School (But I Still Prefer It)

Waiting to potty train -- at least until baby can walk. © Marco Ariesen/stock.xchng

Up until a few weeks ago, I had no idea what elimination communication was. But thanks to Amanda who connected the dots for me (‘You mean that’s what they call holding a baby over a potty?’) and her pointing me in the direction of a friend who follows this method with her infant son, I feel better.

Because for a while there, I really thought I might end up in mommy summer school. I rely so heavily on intuition that I tend not to read the parenting handbooks until it’s time to put a label on what it is that I’ve been doing all along — like I did with parenting styles. That’s just the type of mom I am.

So when it came to potty training, I dove in head first, without researching a thing. Honestly, I didn’t think there was anything to research. I did it the only way I knew. Wait until your child knows what a potty is, realizes that no one else taller than them is wearing a diaper, and then sit them down. And wait some more.

Somewhere between age 2 and age 3, it clicks and they are potty trained.

To have started that process a whole two years earlier when my baby didn’t even know — well, anything — I’m not sure what difference it would have made. And essentially, with elimination communication, you are carrying your baby around, sans diaper, trying to time their needs just right so that you are holding the baby over a potty or a receptacle of some sort every time the baby needs to “go.” Talk about responsibility. I can barely predict that for myself, never mind a creature who is predictably unpredictable.

The theory behind it is that you start your baby using the toilet almost from birth — say every twenty to thirty minutes. It’s common practice in Asia and Africa, where potty training tends to be completed in baby’s first year for this reason. Call it what you like — infant potty training, natural infant hygiene or “potty whispering” — but it relies upon the parent to interpret an infant’s body language and cues. Part of the appeal among Western parents is that the practice is environmentally friendly and cheaper because you aren’t relying on diapers, either at all or for the better part of two years. Some even say it creates a stronger bonding experience between parent and child. Oh, and you don’t have to deal with diaper rash.

Sounds great.

But I don’t think I could do it.

The way I see, there would be little time for anything else if you had to hover around a potty every twenty minutes, every day of baby’s life. It’s bad enough you have to carve out a week for intense potty training when the child is two, dismissing any thought of grocery shopping or taking a trip to the playground, instead chasing a naked toddler around on your hardwood floors.

Although, according to practitioners of elimination communication, if we had actually followed that method from the start the child would already associate the urge to eliminate with a potty because of all of their training, and we wouldn’t be saying “uh-oh” in the pile of Mega Blocks.

Still. I don’t see it happening. It’s almost like starting to teaching a baby division at their first birthday. You can talk about it all you want, and the child is still going to get it when they’re ready. So either you spend years “teaching” them from an early age or weeks when the natural capacity to comprehend it kicks in.

What do you think? Have you ever tried elimination communication? Or if you didn’t get it until now like me, would you ever consider it?

For our guest blogger Enyo, she did what she knew best too. Having been brought up with the practice of elimination communication, it was more of an expectation than an expedition when her son was born last year. And so she checks in to tell us how it’s going…

Teaming Up in the Potty Training Department

Suzanne recently ‘fessed up to some fellow mom bloggers at Playdate Crashers about why potty training her toddlers was such a slam dunk. Seems that she had a little help, and Amanda couldn’t be more jealous.

It’s been a long running joke among my working mom pals that you finally see a return on your investment at day care when they help potty train your child. I think more parents might start paying a few hundred dollars a month if they only knew that someone else would readily take care of that dirty work! But all joking aside, potty training your child while he or she is attending day care can be a very positive experience — for you both. Read more…

Tell us about your child’s potty training experience, and if you would have been as open to someone else taking the lead.

Our Two Cents: How Far Should This Mom Go to “Save” a Friend?

©mummau55/stock.xchng

Can a mom and child ever spend too much time together? ©mummau55/stock.xchng

Dear Amanda and Suzanne: 

My dear, dear friend “Jennifer” and I have babies who were born seven months apart. How excited we both are to have children who will grow up together! 

Jennifer’s son “John” is a sweet boy with what I perceive to be a bit of an issue: He is 14 months old and won’t sleep through the night. You read that correctly…WON’T sleep through the night. 

Now, Jennifer is still breastfeeding him but John is also eating solid foods as well. Not to say that breastfeeding is causing the sleep interruption, but can it be part of the issue? Jennifer won’t try the ‘cry it out’ method and on average, John is up every 3 to 4 hours every night. 

I mean, I would go mental. I have wanted to gently broach the subject but I don’t want to seem like a know it all. 

And also, is it normal for moms not want to hang out without the kids? We haven’t been out to lunch alone since the babies were born. She “can’t” leave him. I feel like the worst Mom sometimes because I like to go out with my lady friends once in awhile. Anyway, that’s my issue and any feedback would be greatly appreciated. 

Signed,
A Concerned Friend
 

Suzanne: 

I could see where you would be concerned! Just the thought of not sleeping for longer than four hours for fourteen months straight makes me tired. And to envision your good friend suffering in silence, having been there yourself for however short a period of time, makes you want to jump through her bedroom window and save her.

But before you pull out your old Wonder Woman costume, maybe you could casually bring up the subject in conversation, without making your friend feel self-conscious about something she may or may not perceive as a problem herself.

Next time you talk, you might say in passing that your little one continues to sleep through the night and *fingers crossed* you hope it’s not just a phase. When she gives you the update on John (presuming they’re still in the same boat) ask in response whether her pediatrician has offered any advice as to whether she should try to stretch his feedings further apart. If she appears to not be looking for a “solution” you should just leave it at that — and maybe commend her for being stronger than you would be with so little sleep.

As for her not wanting to leave baby behind for a little girls-only time, you will just have to wait her out on that one. All moms find their comfort zone at different points in their child’s development. Some are ready to go immediately, knowing that baby is in good hands with daddy or grandma for an hour or two, while others might never leave their child’s sight until the drive to college.

For me, justifying time spent alone with friends took a few years and that was a direct result of my self-imposed guilt. I thought I was shortchanging my babies while I was at work, so I wanted to give them all of my free time otherwise. But now — well, I totally see the value in just hanging with friends for an hour or two and recharging in a way that ultimately makes me a more patient and well-rounded mom. Your friend should come around too — maybe after she starts getting some sleep! 

Amanda: 

I could be way off base here, but it sounds to me like Jennifer is practicing attachment parenting, whether she’s made the conscious decision to do so or not. Now this is just a guess based on what you are saying and from my own experiences as someone who did it as well (and sort of stumbled into the method).

If she is attachment parenting, I think everything you describe is actually pretty normal. The night waking, the extended breastfeeding, even the not wanting to leave the baby at all. I actually went through all of that myself — except for the extended breastfeeding part, which I had to stop at 13 months with S. because of my surgery. And while my husband T. and I did let our babies “cry it out,” at bedtime, if they woke in the middle of the night to nurse, I did let them and then they co-slept with us for the remainder of the evening.

Crazy? Perhaps. But it was the most natural thing for me, and I suspect, your friend. I’ve always felt that attachment parenting is inherent. Not to get all new-agey on you, but you don’t choose to attachment parent, it comes from inside of you.

And I promise, it’s no reflection on you if she doesn’t want to hang out. It’s just part of the attachment parenting style. Not that they dictate that, but it’s more like, moms who practice attachment parenting tend to not want to be separated from their babies. I knew that leaving the baby was fine and good to do, but it was just really hard for me emotionally. I have no way to explain it other than I just didn’t want to be away from them. I didn’t judge others that could leave their babies, I just couldn’t. Not for a while.

And that’s the thing about attachment parenting, you either get it and love it and do it, or you don’t do it and you think those who do are a bit looney. Which is fine!

If you miss your friend (and it sounds like you do) for now, maybe it’s best to schedule outings that incorporate all four of you — trips to the playground, walks, even a quick meal or coffee at a family-friendly place. Be supportive and patient — the good friend that you’ve been all along.

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What do you think? Does Concerned Friend have cause to be concerned? Should she talk to Jennifer or leave it alone? And if you are looking for a second (and third) opinion, ask us! Send an e-mail to advice@wearebothright.com.

Working Parents = Overweight Kids? I Don’t Think So.

©miamiamia/stock.xchng

©miamiamia/stock.xchng

A recent study finds that children of working moms weigh more. Suzanne is a perfect example of why this isn’t necessarily true.

Read why:

Sorry, researchers, you’ll have to try (yet) again to come up with a working mom, guilt-inducing generalization that applies to me.

You see, I’ve been working full-time outside the home for the entire time I have been a mother. Neither of my children (now 8 and 3) is anywhere near overweight, has ADD, or watches more than 90 minutes of TV a day. That’s because I pay through the nose so they can go to day care/schools where they are busy learning and being physically active while my husband and I are at work.

We would have more to worry about if either of us didn’t work and all we could afford to eat was Spam, and not the produce at $3.99 lb. and healthy cuts of meat at $4.99 lb. that we buy every week to make home-cooked meals – which we eat together as a family with no exceptions.  And on nights when we stop in at a restaurant for a quick dinner, it’s only because one of the children will be spending the next two hours sweating it out at basketball practice or in ice skating lessons.

Maybe these “researchers” should do a study on parents who sacrifice any personal time to workout on their own, or take care of themselves, because they are giving their all to their children.

On second thought, don’t even bother.

Is 11 Too Early to Be Home Alone? My Son Says Yes.

quil/stock.xchng

I don’t know if it’s Super Bowl Sunday that has me contemplating commercials more deeply, but there’s one I’ve seen a few times now that makes me stop and think.  (And it has nothing to do with squealing pigs.)

This one starts off with a man sitting in his office, his eyes trained on the computer screen.  He’s smiling — which is the first clue that he must not be working. 

And it turns out he’s not.  Because on the screen, he can see a full-color video of his son coming home from school, entering through the front door of their house with a backpack slung over his shoulder.  The son glances up for a second in the direction of the video camera, and nods to his dad, as if to say: “I’m here, I’m OK. (Now leave me alone).”

I need to find out where I can get one of those.  And how old that kid is.

My oldest is only eight, and I’m thinking about the day when he won’t be eligible for our town’s after-school program.  Two years from now.  Of course I can think about plenty of other things to worry about between now and then.  But I’m a mom and that’s my job.

Briefly, I dabbled with the idea that he would be OK staying home at that point.  I think I was 10 or 11 when I started staying home after school with my younger brother and sister until our mother came home from work. 

We were pros at hiding out from surveyors, UPS delivery men, gas company personnel, and anyone else who appeared at the front door.  Skirting around windows on our knees and heading into the basement until they stopped ringing the doorbell — directives led by yours truly, paranoid me.  We’re all still alive, and in the process became rather skilled at making grilled cheese and Rice Krispie treats.  So I have some faith in the abilities of a pre-teen to survive the after-school hours. 

It’s just that now it’s my baby who has to be the responsible one.  Right now he’s also the one who forgets to close the refrigerator door.  The kid who loses coats.  The child who leaves on the light in our minivan every day (which I discover around midnight while closing up the house).  The one who didn’t even hear the doorbell ring fifty times when my husband and I got locked out a few months ago. 

So we won’t be leaving him home alone as soon as we thought. When I ask him, he says he will be ready when he’s 12 — maybe. 

What I didn’t realize was that even if he (and I) thought he could handle it, I could have been breaking the law if I left him home alone too soon.  Did you know that some states have laws about the age a child must be to stay home alone?  I didn’t until just now.   

I found out that my state doesn’t have a minimum, but even if it did, I still think a lot depends on the child and your surroundings.  Let’s say the bus stop is on a busy roadway.  Or the neighborhood is iffy.  Or your door has a trick lock that means he might not be able to get in if his wrists aren’t well-trained. 

Lots to think about besides just age, including where I should have those video cameras installed.  Maybe besides the front hall, I might feel better having a few more — in the kitchen, family room, his bedroom, and maybe even the bathroom.

So while I’m trying to sort this all out, anything else I should consider?

A few weeks ago I might have been leaning toward letting my son stay home alone sooner rather than later.  Then I read Amanda’s post.  He definitely doesn’t know what to do when the toilet overflows.