Noodle has been at my aunt and uncle’s the last few days. They have a daughter (my cousin) who is 16 months younger than Noodle. The girls saw each other every day from the time their daughter “A” was born until Noodle was 5 or so.
Noodle is a very much follow the rules kind of girl. A is a very much lets see how many rules we can break before we get caught kind of girl. When Noodle breaks a rule, there are appropriate consequences. When A breaks a rule, they usually laugh it off “because they are just kids”. We have disagreed on parenting techniques more than once but it is what it is. They love her and she is safe or else she would not be there.
With that little bit of background…..
Noodle just called and wanted to know if it was ok if Auntie dropped her and A off at the public pool (they have a fabulous pool in their backyard) by themselves for awhile. I didn’t know what to say. My gut screamed NO! Noodle is a fish and spent several summers in lessons and on swim team, so it wasn’t really the swimming part. It was the idea of them being there by themselves. I asked Noodle if she would be terribly disappointed if I said no. She didn’t seem to really care one way or another. I asked her to put Auntie on the phone. I told Auntie it scared me, I trust the girls Noodle, its everyone else I don’t trust is kinda what it comes down to), and I didn’t think I was ready for that. Auntie told me she understood but that “I was going to have to cut the cord sooner or later”.
It is true, Noodle is very seldom home alone. It is not because she is not responsible. We have very few neighbors right now, the soonest (if we were at work) anyone could get to her if she called and needed us would be at least 30 minutes, and there are lots and lots of construction people coming and going all the time in the neighborhood and I have no idea if they are watching our house to know if she is there or not. (Paranoid? Maybe. Maybe Not). She does not go to the neighborhood school so she isn’t a “latch key kid”.
Now when I was growing up, we were home alone after school everyday for 2-3 hours from the time I was 7 or 8. In the summer we rode our bikes to the public pool (close to a mile or more I would guess) all the time with no one thinking anything of it. I even remember one time my parents going to Vegas for the weekend leaving us *GASP* home alone and I know the oldest I could have been was 11 because the house we lived in at the time. I am sure the neighbors kept an eye on us, but still. (We did live in Base Housing while my dad was still active duty, so there were tons of stay at home moms around and more kids than you could count at any given time).
I thought about it after I said No. I remembered all the things we were allowed to do that are not an option for Noodle for what ever the reason may be. Is she missing out, or does she even know what she is missing. Do you suppose when her kids ask her if they can do something, she will tell them No because she never got to do anything or that she never even got to stay home alone until she went away to college.
Would you have let your kiddo go?