Originally posted on Live Journal: Suburban Eschatology Part Two (April 23, 2011 -12:57 PM)
Note: November 20, 2011, 6:55 PM
Been working on tweaking and changing some of the tools I use to post, and the new method makes it very easy to migrate posts from one blog to another. Eventually, I would like to move everything over here from the old LJ blog, but that is not a huge priority right now.
However, working on the system for doing that, I did want to move a few over tonight. I posted a couple on their original publication date and posted a few for tonight.
In the future, I will probably just sneak most of them in behind the current posts on their original date.
I will also be working on a couple years worth of posts that were pulled down off of Rubble when it was repurposed and never put up anywhere else, the new SE2 or the old.
Like the author of this article, our children are eight and eleven, and this is an issue that their mother and I deal with as well. Are they old enough to be left alone? In what situations and for how long? Of course, with the unique issues my children are dealing with, it is a little more complicated, but we still struggle with the basics.
In the early 80s, I was a latch key kid from about the third grade through the middle of the fifth grade. There would be many days where I would be alone until past bed time, responsible for cooking my own dinner and putting myself to bed. At the time, it seemed pretty normal. Especially being alone for a few hours, which was the most typical, until Mom came home from work.
These days, however, this does not seem as normal, at least in our neighborhood. Plus, there are more after school programs available for single parents to fill the gap between school letting out and returning home from work, which were virtually non-existent in the early 1980s. So, it would seem that leaving my eight year old and eleven year old alone for a twenty minute store run or for an hour and a half while I run to a meeting should not feel like a big deal to me, but it does.
I live in an apartment complex, and I've never had an issue with leaving the kids while I run up to the office to deal with an issue or run to the mailbox. These little ventures could take from five to fifteen minutes. Or just going out for a smoke or two, the boys might be alone in the apartment for up to twenty minutes. But I was right there, they knew where I was, and they could walk out and get me in case of an emergency.
A couple years ago when their mother lived in the complex across the street, she'd come over for dinner sometimes and then I'd drive her home (she is disabled and the walk, especially around bedtime, was a bit much for her). These runs would take less time than a walk to the mailbox, but I would still feel that we were doing something risky and not right. Until we got used to it. Meanwhile, the boys barely noticed I was gone. So after these little jaunts were shown to be successful, I started leaving them for a few minutes if I needed to run across the street to pick up something forgotten at their mother's or even run down the block to the store for a few for a gallon of milk or whatever. These trips still didn't take any longer than a run to the mail box, but I was not where they could come get me if I was needed, so there was a fundamental difference. They were really on their own until I returned. This was a big deal to me. They, on the other hand, wouldn't have noticed I was even gone if I hadn't told them first.