My 9 year old is not well. Sore throat, sniffles, flat. He’s the type of kid that will be outside kicking a ball from the moment he gets up until I yell at him to come inside yet yesterday he spent the whole day in his pyjamas in front of the tv. Even with all that resting, he’s still not 100%, so he’s having another day off school today.
My youngest, however, is fine and so needs to go to school. We walk to school every day. We never drive because it’s only a block away and it’s not worth the drama of getting the kids in the car and finding a park and getting them out of the car etc. So I am faced with the dilemma of what to do with the sick one while I take the well one to school.
“I’ll just stay home, Mum” offers my ever logical first born.
It’s not the first time he’s offered this solution, by the way. He first began his “Home Alone” campaign when he was 7. Declaring that it was ridiculous that he shouldn’t be allowed to stay home on his own for short periods of time. In support of his argument he told me:
- I won’t answer the door
- I won’t answer the phone
- I know how to get myself a drink or something to eat
- I know how to go to the toilet
- I won’t go outside
- If there’s an emergency, I’ll call 000
All of which is incredibly sensible and reasonable and logical – just like him. However, all the logic in the world cannot sway a mother’s protective spirit and so his application was denied.
While I was preparing for my day in the shower this morning, I considered the logistics of walking Stefan to school while Nathan was sick and I thought about his well presented argument from 2 years ago. He has already proven to be responsible enough to walk home on his own from school and I can complete the entire drop-off trip in 15 minutes if I push it. And so it was decided. Nathan would stay home, by himself, for the first time in his life today.
When I was growing up, my single mum worked several jobs at once to make ends meet so my younger brother and I were often home alone. We had our own key to the house and had rules and also had chores. One of mine was to start dinner, every day, so that we could eat at a reasonable time once Mum got home from work. My job was to peel potatoes and cut chips. With a knife. But we survived that. We lived in a housing trust home which had little security, no gates and no real protection from the outside world. We left the front and back door open until we went to bed and most of the time we played on the actual street, where the cars drive, riding our bikes without helmets. We survived that too. It wasn’t the life my mum imagined for us and I am certainly not singing its praises but we were ok fending for ourselves and we weren’t the only ones. It was quite the norm in the 80s and in our neck of the woods.
When I left Nathan home today, I locked the front and back doors [which he could still open from the inside] reminded him of every rule and locked the front gate behind me. I was gone for less than 15 minutes and my heart was racing for the entire time.
When I walked back in the house, he hadn’t moved from his position in front of the tv watching the soccer.
“Hey Mum” he says without looking up, completely unaffected and unaware of how momentous those 15 minutes were.
And now my heart is racing for an entire different reason.