20 Jul
Home Alone

Dear Mouthy Housewives,

For the past few weeks, I’ve been going to a 6 a.m. yoga class. I just became friendly with one of the other attendees, a mom in my neighborhood, and she recently told me that she often comes to class when her husband’s out of town—which means she’s leaving her small children home alone.

I know her house isn’t far from the yoga studio, but this really horrifies me. I told her I don’t think that’s the right thing to do, but I don’t know her very well. And if I “turn her in,” she’ll know it was me because she hasn’t told anyone else she does that.

Signed,

Om Um

_______________________

Dear Om Um,

This is exactly why exercise is so dangerous.  First you’re stretching and Downward Dogging and the next thing you know, you’re in the middle of a Moral Dilemma involving small, innocent children.  Wouldn’t it be a lot easier to skip the whole thing and sleep in?

You don’t say how old the children are, but I’m assuming that they’re under 13 (and no, adding their ages together to get to the age of majority doesn’t count). There’s an unspoken rule in the mommy community that we should respect each other’s choices even when we don’t understand them or agree with them.  The caveat, of course, is when someone’s choice is putting her child in danger you should intervene.  And I think that leaving young kids unattended is dangerous.

So should you speak up, or look the other way?

I’m guessing that looking the other way is not an option for you, because you are pre-haunted with the images of young children scared and helpless, crying for their mother while she’s all bendy at yoga.  And because you’re not insane.

So you have no choice.

And short of turning her in to the heat, you have to have it out with her.

Tell her a few horror stories of the terrible things that happened to children left home alone.  (And feel free to look beyond Macauley Culkin!)  Tell her how dangerous it is.  And if you’re really at a loss for words, tell her that my mama thinks that she’s an idiot.  Because in addition to the parade of horribles that you’ve imagined, mama thinks it’s entirely possible that the kids can knife each other in some kind of a junior re-enactment of West Side Story.

Besides, everyone knows that when your husband is away, it’s the perfect time to sleep in and skip the workout!

Good luck!

Marinka, TMH

11 Responses to “Home Alone”

07.20.10#1

Comment by writingmama04.

Great advice – you could even leave a note on her car – anonymously. Whatever you do, though, all kidding aside, be very very careful about calling in the ‘benevolent’ authorities. Like they say at the airport screening, ‘No jokes, please’. I know a number of people who have been ‘called in’ and this is a very serious matter. Best to deal – mono a mono, if you just can’t sleep at night.

07.20.10#2

Comment by Elizabeth.

I think an awful lot depends on how old her children are. I mean if they’re toddlers, she’s crazy. But as young as eight, I was a latchkey kid and had to look after myself for an hour before my mom got home. It was never a big deal. And if at least one of the children is in middle school, then he/she can be left in charge.

07.20.10#3

Comment by GrandeMocha.

It depends on the kids.

I let myself in afterschool at age 5 if mom wasn’t home. We lived in an apartment complex with lots of other mommies if I needed help.

I have a trusted neighbor get my 7 yr old off the bus and into her house when I’m not there. I don’t trust him or the crazy people in the big bad world.

The 11 yr old across the street watches her 9 yr old brother and does a good job. Someone called Social Services on them. They came out, evaluated the situation, and said she could handle it.

07.20.10#4

Comment by Bean.

She could have live-in adult family, or a nanny… just because hubby is out of town doesn’t mean there’s no one else responsible there. Only way to find out for sure is get her drunk on spiked smoothies and talk to her.

But if she is leaving small children alone, and doesn’t change her ways, someone needs to be told. Her husband is a better starting point than the authorities.

07.20.10#5

Comment by wacdance.

It really depends on how old the kids are. I was allowed to stay home alone at age 10. (Only in the daylight hours and never for more than an hour) I had a neighbor next door who knew I was home alone so I could call her or walk over if there was an issue.
If the kids are under 10 years old, or if the 10 year old is left with 3 other small children then there is a problem. However, my fiancé’s mother just told me a story about how she was babysitting at 8 years old. AN INFANT!! This is not okay but happened all the time back in the day. I think we need to find a happy medium between too much freedom for our children and too protective.

07.20.10#6

Comment by Nona.

Back in the day when I was a broke single parent that could not afford a gym, I once told a co-worker that I liked to get up at 6 a.m., before my 10-year-old daughter, and walk laps around my cul-de-sac.

I thought she was going to call the police on me.

Never mind that the kid never, ever woke up voluntarily before 7 a.m.

Never mind that I could see our townhouse the entire time I was trying to increase my heart rate and work up a sweat before my morning shower.

Never mind that my daughter knew exactly where I was so if by some miracle she did rise early she could yell “Hey, mom!” out the window at me as I did my mini-laps.

This woman was so livid she was shaking. I never felt like more of a crappy parent because all I wanted to do was exercise and clear my head before I had to come to work to deal with Judgy McJudgerson.

So all I’m saying is a lot depends on the kids, the situation at home, and many other factors. I agree with others that posted you should get to know her better and talk to her more. Maybe you could help her come up with another solution.

07.20.10#7

Comment by dusty earth mother.

Yeah, this pretty much scared me to death and I’m about as laid back as they come. Talk to this woman ASAP and find out what’s really going on. Then I agree with Bean, if there’s really a problem, the husband is the place to start.

07.20.10#8

Comment by Cary.

How do you know there isn’t someone with the kids? Please get the full details before doing something you’ll regret.

07.20.10#9

Comment by LadySteele.

I was babysitting other children (yes, even infants) when I was 10, but the world was a different place back then.

I will leave my six year old unattended for a quick trip to pick up the dry cleaning or a jug of milk, but I would never leave her for more than just a few minutes.

I know other six year olds I wouldn’t trust alone for anything, but my kid is a good kid, is very mature, and knows her boundaries.

It is all about the kids and how mature they are. You have to teach them sometime, but I don’t think an hourlong session(plus commute)is the best way to do it.

07.20.10#10

Comment by Plano Mom.

I have left my son at home for as much as an hour, but only when he was about 7 or 8, and never where I wasn’t close (within 5 miles). And come to think of it, for a while a neighbor friend and I took turns leaving our kids (same age) at home alone, so that while we weren’t sure of the trust factor, our kid had a backup. And we had very clear, tested boundaries. No answering the phone unless it was Mom or Dad. Absolutely no answering the door (tested by an acquaintance). No going outside, etc.

Now that he is 11 I have no problems leaving him at home alone. We’ve already got several years of trust built up.

So I would ask a few questions first, before I did anything drastic.

07.30.10#11

Comment by Lala.

Just read on another blog (momania, ajc.com) about kids traveling by plane alone, which lead one mom to brag about leaving her 10-year-old alone all day, and having her start dinner by turning on the overn and putting in prepared casserole, meat, etc. to cook for an hour or two before Daddy came home. She got all snippy when others questioned her and claimed as long as it is not against the law, she can do what she wants. Thoughts?

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