Our boys are ten and seven years old, and I confess that I have left them at home unattended for short periods of time. It all began when Asher, our older child, stayed home from school with a fever. He planted himself on the sofa to watch television having little energy for anything else. I left him there. I don’t remember why. Perhaps I ran to the store or the post office. Or it’s possible that I skipped out for a moment just to feel less like a prisoner in my home. In any event, I left, and he was fine.
We’ve gone through the drill. He knows not to answer the phone unless he sees that I am the person calling. He knows not to open the door under any circumstances. He is not to do anything that resembles cooking. He knows my cell phone number and knows where I keep the list of all the emergency numbers he would ever need. Still, I get nervous. I try not to imagine every possible disaster that could take place in a 20 minute time period. I try not to picture myself on trial for negligence. I tell myself that I won’t leave him again – that it’s just this one time. Suffice it to say, my outings are far from relaxed.
As soon as I get home, I check on him – usually by yelling up the stairs, “I’M HOME! ARE YOU DEAD?” So far, he has only answered with, “Yes,” which amuses us both.
Last week, Asher was sick, and I kept him home from school. Once again, I left the house.
I returned home to a crime scene.
Deborah: ASHER, ARE YOU DEAD?
Deborah: Good, then you won’t have to tell me what snacks you ate without my permission.
Asher: Huh? (Asher made his way to the kitchen and realized his mistake.)
Deborah: I don’t actually mind that you got a snack by yourself, though I’d prefer if you asked me first. But, I’m disappointed that you would be so careless as to leave the evidence of your supposedly clandestine food looting in plain view.
Deborah: You left the chair in front of the pantry, Dude. Amateur mistake. I’m disappointed.
Asher: Yeah, I forgot to put the chair back.
Deborah: Next time can you wait until I get home so you don’t have to climb on chairs?
I still leave them occasionally. And, I still worry about what could happen. Now, I also wonder what other crimes they might be committing. Mind you, I am not so worried that I stay home. And now I can see the light at the end of a long tunnel. One of these days, I’ll be able to go out to dinner or see a show without having to hire a babysitter. I can almost taste the freedom…and I can still imagine the catastrophes. Perhaps it’s time to invest in a nanny cam.