Monday, May 14, 2007

she made us all disappear

A few weeks ago, I had to take my oldest, 8 years old, to the ER. Turns out she had an ear infection. While not contagious, I kept her home from school the next day, as we had been out until 2:am (what with the waiting room, and the...well, I saw a dead body, and also having to go to the Rite Aid for the Bubble Gum Medicine).

On that Friday, however, I had to attend Kindergarten Orientation for the 5 & 1/2 year old, who I was supposed to bring with me so that she could play in the classroom. The 3-year-old and the 6-month-old would have to just manage in the double stroller, not that I was looking forward to that, but it had to be done. I had asked my husband to come home, but he has a standing engagement at the school that on Fridays, during his lunch hour, he plays lunch-lady and volunteers at the school.

But what to do with the oldest? I couldn't ask a friend to watch her ("Hi, my daughter isn't sick, but she's not well enough to be at school; can she come to your house?"), and I couldn't bring her to the school with me, since I had called her in as being sick.

*Big breath. Gulp.*

"Sweetie, how would you feel about staying home by yourself?"

"Hmmm? Okay, Mom."

"Here's a paper with our neighbor's phone number and her cell number. She knows you'll be here, and she's ready to help you with whatever you may need."


"And don't answer the door. And don't answer the phone unless it's my cell number, got it?"


"But you won't need to call the neighbor because if you call my cell phone I promise to pick up right away."

"Okay, Mom."

"But don't answer any other calls, just from me. Or from the neighbor. And if it's an emergency, call her because she'll be closer."

"Okay, Mom."

Backing out of the garage, my 5 & 1/2 year old asked where her big sister was. "She's staying home."

"By herself?!"


I rationalized that at her age, I had to do things like cook dinner for my two younger siblings and then put them to bed because my mom was at work and my dad was too drunk to feed us, so certainly my own daughter's being able to reach me by cell phone and our neighbor as well wasn't too terrible a position for me to put her in.

Sitting at the school, listening to information I already knew, my phone in my pocket started to vibrate. I quickly excused myself to the back of the room, all the while fearing the worst and at-the-ready to speed home if needed. I loudly whispered, "Hello?"

"Mom, it's me."

"Is everything okay?"

My panic started to melt away:

"Mom, I'm bored! There's nothing good on t.v. - just baby shows..."

Is this what A Good Mommy does?
What would you have done?


AzĂșcar said...

Yes it's what a good mommy does.

I still have a vivid memory of being a similar age, 7, maybe 8 and being too sick for school. With both parents working, what were they to do? I got to stay at home. I totally remember how warm and sunny my room was and lying snuggled under my comforter, slightly dizzy from the stomach flu. She gave me similar cautions but I was too sick to do anythign by lie there. She left me a supply of saltines (ew) and seven-up (yum.) My mom ran back from work as soon as she could, but I was fine.

As you can tell from my shining example, no long term damage done. In fact, it's a rather nice memory now.

AzĂșcar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sketchy said...

Yeah, I think you're good with that one. At 8 I was babysitting my younger siblings too (not that I'm advocating for that). I think they're mature enough to take care of themselves at that age for short amounts of time.

compulsive writer said...

I'd have done the same--and have. Maybe not in the pre cell phone age, but no worries for short periods of time and when a neighbor is on alert and I am just a phone call away.

Kristy said...

I totally would have done the same, in fact I have many times. My oldest is about to hit 11, the magical year of legally being old enough to babysit (at least in AZ) :)

compulsive writer said...

There is a legal age to babysit?

sue-donym said...

Yes, in Utah the legal age is 6 months. 4 months if you don't tell anyone.

You did the right thing...good mommy!

~cari~ said...

Been there...done that!

wendysue said...

Yep, I would have (and have) done the same thing. . .I think the hardest part is realizing that they really are old enough to not need us SO much anymore. gulp.

Queen Scarlett said...

I love how she called to tell you she was bored. They are more mature and ready to handle things than we give them credit for... sometimes we forget we did stuff younger than they did.

In fact, my Mom always worries about me going to appointments or errands on my own with 2 babies... she had 4... she forgets she did it all and I can too...

Harder for parents to let go. ;-)