Dare I Tell You I Left My Kid(s) Home Alone?

I guess I just did.

I left my older 2 home while I took Young Lucy to a birthday party… to the home of adults I had not met. I had to go. This is what mothers do. We do not drop our kids off at the homes of strangers.

Except I did. It had been A DAY. A “no time for red lights” kind-of day. I dropped off Lucy at the party, then took the the older 2 home… then went back.

You can feel the earth tremble, no?

Aaaaaanywho…

I made sure “the olders” had the home phone (we haven’t launched into giving the cell phones yet)… and I had them lock the door behind me. Hopefully, they don’t lock me out! I don’t want to have to take advantage of useful services similar to norcross ga locksmith! I also reminded the kids to not go outside while I was gone.

We were good. We were golden. I was 8 minutes from home.

About 45 minutes into the party, I decided to check in. But reception was bad.

Oh snap.

I stood on my head.

I created an antenna out of a wire hanger and made an headband out of it and stood on one leg.

I stood in the middle of the driveway and FINALLY got through… to the little message that basically told me – HOME PHONE NOT WORKING.

D*mn it.

I called the husband. He had tried to call me moments before… to tell me… the kids discovered the phone wasn’t working and I needed to get home.

“Jenny, did you panic?”, you ask?

YES.

*An aside: my son is 12. He is fine being at home for a couple hours… even more. He’s 12, for cryin’ out loud. And the boy is uber-psycho-crazy responsible ESPECIALLY when he knows he has the be The Man. He’s done it a few times before, but…

my boy and me

And he is as hilarious as he is handsome.

When he discovered the phone was not working (say, 20 minutes before I even called), he freaked out because he knew I’d freak out if I found out I wouldn’t be able to get through.

So, being The Man that my boy is, he got on my computer and tried to email me (on account of the fact I have email on my phone) but couldn’t figure out how to do that… because I haven’t let him have email yet.

I am terrible. But I don’t have the email headache that some parents of tweens have, so I don’t feel like we are missing out. We will have to do it very soon, and that is soon enough for me.

So. When email didn’t work, he thought.

And thought.

And thought.

And got on the xBox. He messaged his cousin to tell his aunt to call me to tell me to come home.

It was about this time I had reached my husband on the phone and he told me Joel had messaged his aunt on xBox, yadda, yadda, yadda… and I needed to get home right away.

I left Lucy.

I mean… by then there were party games, and… I had deemed the mother to be non-psychotic.

After 30 8 minutes I got home, to a locked door. Of course! When I walked in I found 2 kids worried their mom was panicked. They were never worried about them.

OK, maybe a pinch.

But mostly, they were freaked out because they were worried I was freaking out.

AND I WAS.

We had a good, long “bring it in” moment.

Here’s where it gets good — Despite their “emergency” they managed to clean the basement and match socks… just as I had asked before I left.

Bless my kids.

They decided it’d be cool to crash the kindergarten birthday party.

The party people were very sweet and let my party-crashers load-up on sweets. Nothing like positive reinforcement, no?

And if I was ever concerned about my boy not being able to handle an emergency. I have no doubt now. He is a smart and capable kid. He truly is… The Man.

And the next day, when I had a coffee meeting to discuss the magic of local social media… he decided to come with me and the girls. Which was fine because the dad I was meeting with brought his 3 kids too.

And then today… I lost track of my son at Kohl’s… he had them page me. Thinking he might be becoming a better mother than me.

A few question for yas…

  • At what age is it O.K. to leave kids home alone?
  • Don’t you think my son is The Man?
  • When your child is invited to the party of a kid whose family you don’t really know… do you stay or do you go?

********

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16 Responses to “Dare I Tell You I Left My Kid(s) Home Alone?”

  1. Rebecca says:

    I live in Ak, that’s Alaska in case you just thought Arkansas like everyone else. Anyway, in Ak state law is kids must be 11yrs to watch siblings, and 12yrs to babysit non-subs. I couldn’t WAIT for the day for my girl to turn 11. I am a lot like you, no cell phones, no email, no Facebook. My poor kids don’t even get TV. I do believe we have to give them chances to be responsible, and to learn to be responsible. I would leave them home while I ran quickly to the store, or had a quick lunch with a friend. Always turning on a movie before i left, knowing that would give me two hours of no fighting 🙂 Slowly I left them for longer, and with little assignments to accomplish. My kids do great. She is now 13, and can stay home all day with the little two, making them lunch even. I do try and take my 11yr old out of the mix if I’m going to be gone for more than a few hours. Otherwise a fight will generally break out.

    Sorry, prolly more of a response than you wanted, but that’s my two cents. Gotta give em a chance to be responsible.

    Your son Rocks!! (Mine figured out how to work Google’s little phone thing one day when our house phone battery ran out). Oh, another thing. My 13yr old bought an iPod, and we found an ap called Textfree and she can text me, and even call me from home! Love it!!

    Parties–sometimes I stay, sometimes I don’t.

    • Rebecca. I LOVED your 2 cents. I think this is an important conversation for moms and families to have. I am part of these conversations often, and I think most echo what you have taken the time to share here… and I will have to peek at textfree, my son has an ipod touch as well!

  2. Sheila says:

    Yes your boy is awesome! Smart too 🙂

    We have no age limit for leaving kidelts home alone here. But if they’re young-ish CPS will come a-knocking. That said, we do need to give them that learning opportunity when they are old enough. What age is that? Depends on the kidlet. Are they mature, or easily scared. How young are the younger sibs? Factors. It’s all about the factors. But by 12 they should’ve had some small experience of alone-ness. So you’re right on target!

    I stay for the party. I do. Yup.

  3. Karen says:

    CA law is 12 to leave alone, but not sure how old for baby/child watching. I agree with Sheila, it’s all about the factors. You considered your factors and made a good choice.

    Your son does totally rock! I like that your kids both considered how you would feel and were resourceful enough to keep trying. I also think they deserved those kudos since they completed their assignments :)!

    I always go to the parties at this age (5 & 8), and would meet with the parents at a party when my kids are older before I decided whether or not to leave them there alone.

    • I feel it is important to be aware of the state law. Though even if a kid is old enough by law, it still may not mean they are ready… kind-of referring to Sheila’s comment as well. Then again, state law can’t account for when, say in Cali and 11 y.o. is capable. I had left my 11 y.o. home without younger siblings for quick trip to the store, etc… and felt fine. Well, fine enough. It is always hard taking those first steps.

      Thanks so much for sharing your insight, Karen!

  4. Kerry says:

    aah what an awesome story Jenny! What sweet sweet kids, and MAN that boy is handsome! I would lock him indoors too, away from potential girlfriend aka son-stealers! I left my kids home alone last week for 20 mins while I went to get a takeaway, they called after 5 minutes because the youngest was screaming about her Nintendo game.. Fail.. I am wary to leave my kids at a party because I’m so paranoid, but have done it because other 2 weren’t invited..arrrghh, its a hard one sista. xx

    • I’m glad you highlighted the sibling-thing, Kerry. That was a big step… b/c of the arguing. We have come to a good spot with my older two, but there have been a few times I opted to take my middle along b/c sometimes their temperaments feel so disconnected. I have only left my youngest with my oldest a time or two. For a very short errand. I definitely err on the side of caution. and in situations like that – I trust my 12 y.o., but feel my youngest is a bit of a wild card and I’d rather him not bear that burden 🙂 Yeah. That sibling factor can throw a wrench.

      Thanks for sharing!!!

  5. The Sweetest says:

    Your son is the man! So cute. Mine is only 3 1/2, so the just the thought of leaving him at home alone is years away, but I can only hope that he will be as responsible as your son. How’d you teach him those tricks? 🙂

    • Oh it is so hard to imagine when they are at that age!!! I think I have luck on my side – he has a great temperament… the oldest, a bit paranoid… my rules kid. I almost think it has more to do with his personality than my (& my husband’s) parenting 🙂

      I should add though, he definitely has graduated to earning responsibility. We’ve had wins and fails and talk a lot 🙂 Thanks for taking the time to join in the convo!

  6. Jennifer S. says:

    : ) I love this post. I’m not a parent. I can, however, attest to your son being incredibly adorable, smart and esp. thoughtful. I will also say that as an aunt and a woman, my heart swells at the thought of how difficult it must be for a mother to allow her babies to spread their wings. I dont think I would have been very good at that part.

  7. 1.) I think that 12 is plenty old for a child to stay home for a few hours. I do however think there are laws for this kind of thing now…go figure! I was babysitting four kids at age 11 for VERY extended periods of time….their Mom wasn’t uber responsible…
    2.) Yes. He is The Man. And he may marry any one of my super adorable daughters and then we’d have an excuse to hang out all the time!!! 🙂
    3.) I still stay at the parties with my 6 year old most of the time. If I know the parents then I’m not as concerned.

    Phew…that was a quiz! 🙂

  8. seems that what i was going to say has already been said, but i will add my two cents, cause i can!! 🙂

    legality is an issue, of course, as has been mentioned, when considering whether or not to venture out without the youngsters. but even more important, in my opinion, is the maturity of the child. because i don’t really care what the state has to say about me leaving my child at home! no one knows my child better than i do and if i feel she is capable of being home alone, then i feel i have the right to leave her there! but that being said, most 11-12 year olds and up SHOULD be capable of being left at home alone for an hour or two (sometimes more) unsupervised, i think your kids did very well, considering…

  9. FireMom says:

    I was left alone before I was 12 — BUT — my grandparents were my neighbors… and my only neighbors on an 89 acre farm. So it was quite different.

    But I think 12 is okay. I do. I waffle on 10 and 11 for the oldest child and it would depend on maturity of mine before I would make that decision. I want to applaud your son for trying to figure out how to contact you though. Smart kiddo. 🙂

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  11. Abigail Snyder says:

    Yay for Joel and Livi! Love ’em!

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