Too Soon to Be Left Alone?

BlogHer Original Post

I make really stupid decisions sometimes. The problem with me (or perhaps an amazing attribute) is that I'm great at justification, rationalization and twisting an idea just so to fit what I need.

I had two situations come up recently that I think I might have blown. They both involve leaving my son Roan unattended, not for a very long time, but still -- unattended.

The first was a morning when I had a doctor's appointment. I needed just five extra minutes to get there on time. Five minutes that ran smack into the time I'm dropping Roan off at school. I asked him if he felt comfortable staying in the school yard without me. He lit up like a fire and said, "YES!"

Roan is really excited about expanding any boundaries in his six-year-old life. I'm pretty sure he'd move into his own place if we offered it. So long as I was there to read books each night. And cook. And play video games. So we walked to school together and were around five minutes earlier than normal, and there was exactly nobody there. The school yard was empty; there were no teachers. I hesitated for a minute, and Roan said, "I'm fine, go!" I watched him mill around the yard for around 45 seconds, then ran like hell to get to my appointment. Guilt plagued me. What if ... and what if ... and what if ... It wasn't a great morning.

My friend Adam, who is a champion Chops-Buster, sent me this e-mail, which I read in the doc's office:

Do you know who this abandoned child is? - was thinking of doing a post about him on my blog. ... but then I thought ... there's this really cool blog about parenting, etc ... guns and gummy bears?? ... something like that ... written by this excellent mom who's really funny (to some) ...

And by the way, Roan is an excellent actor.

Have a great day -

From the pudgy little loser. X

Then he was kind enough to add this picture, just to put my heart at ease:



The e-mail actually did me a world of good, as I knew my friend, the Pudgy Little Loser, was looking after Roan. (Full disclosure: He's not pudgy, little or a loser. Actually, he's a real life Rock Star.) When I picked Roan up from school that day, we went over how the abandonment went, and he actually admitted that he didn't like it very much. Which made my heart bleed a few drops of blood into my spleen, but that's cool. So I pretty much deduced that I had blown it, that I wouldn't be leaving him in the school yard again. Until he's eighteen.

The next situation came up last week, while Roan was sick. It was on one of the days where he was doing alright but really low energy and glued to the couch, in and out of sleep. Okeee ... how do I write about this without it becoming way tooooo much info ... ?  Let's just say, I suddenly needed some toiletries, and there were no toiletriesof the specific kind I needed anywhere in my home. My choices were to drag Roan off the couch, get him dressed and pull him into the cold hard winter day to walk to the corner store. Or I could put on a movie, throw on my running shoes, sprint there and be back within six minutes. I chose the latter. Roan was all for it, and again, even a little stoked that I trusted him to be there for a bit on his own. But my heart raced the entire time, thinking what if ... what if ... what if ...

I was gone probably five minutes (I'm a good runner when I'm motivated!), and the boy was fine, exactly in the same place I'd left him. I didn't feel too badly about this choice, rationalizing that in Suburbia, people leave their kids on one floor of a home while they run to the basement or garage or some such. Was it that different?

I'd love to hear what you have to say about these two situations. Be honest, I can take it. Plus, my lapsed Mormon-girl-self I left in my teenage years is hungry for some guilt, so bring it. Of course, if you think I was right on spot-on, let me know that too. It may help me sleep better at night.



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