Here in NC, the magic age where you can leave your child home alone without having the cops called on you as a bad parent is age 8.
Which means that my about-to-turn-9-this-week oldest child has been talking about being home alone for about the past year and a half.
We talked basics like not letting anyone else in the house or even opening the door. Not letting anyone know he was home alone. How to call us in case there was an emergency. Which neighbor he could go to if he needed something or got scared.
But, I never really saw a reason to leave him home alone. It’s not like Hubs and I could leave him for a few hours while we went on a date- there are still his two younger brothers to consider. And while my oldest can stay alone, he can’t be in charge of younger kids without an adult in the house.
But last week, he got really sick one day after school. And while he seemed okay (if a little tired) the next morning, he had to stay home because I follow our school’s “puke free for 24 hours before returning to school” rule. It was cold and rainy and gross out, so I asked him if he’d rather just stay in his pajamas and in bed while I took his brothers to school. I knew that I would only be gone for about 20 minutes and he’d most likely just go back to sleep, so I figured it would be a good first “home alone” experience.
And then it was time for me to leave. And even though we’d talked about all the major rules and emergency procedures, bizarre rules started occurring to me.
Like “Don’t turn on the oven.” Even though he’d never turned on the oven before and wouldn’t have a reason to.
And “Don’t put anything in your mouth that isn’t food.” Not that he actually does this, but what if he did and then he choked? Or on second thought “Don’t even eat anything while I’m gone because you might choke.”
I was a little worried he’d strain himself from all the eye-rolling, but I finally had to leave or the littles would be late for school.
Of course, he did just fine. And I left him again for afternoon pick ups that day, too. Though when he asked to stay home at night instead of going to his brothers’ basketball practices, I said no. Taking this in baby steps here.