Monday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

I was enthralled by this story in CNN by a father with a child with Down’s Syndrome. He made a poignant argument against labeling children with Down’s Syndrome anything from “retard” to “angel.” What’s wrong with simply being “human”? Good question.

Also LOVED this article in Mamiverse about Latinas and Catholicism and the disconnect between the church leadership and its parishioners. I especially loved the quotes by the Cuban American / Puerto Rican “Elisa”. What a cool chick! ;)

No, seriously, news that a woman in Ireland died in pain and in vain because doctors refused to terminate her pregnancy — which would not survive at 17 weeks! — made me feel indignant. I was glad to see 5,000 Irish take to the streets in protest this past weekend.

And DH sent me this story as we’ve had some disagreement over the appropriate age to allow Ari to stay home alone for short bouts of time. Markos says “no” and I am completely at ease about leaving Ari with his sister while I go to the supermarket, which is three blocks away from us. The other day, as a compromise, I dropped the kids off at Markos’s office and went ahead to the supermarket. But seriously, I think they would be fine if they stayed home.

At what age did you begin to let your kids stay home alone? I am talking short errands here — no more than a half hour — not date night.

Finally, this story in Yahoo Shine made me shudder. It recants an interview with Susan and Tom Klebold, the parents of one of the Columbine shooters. Even worse than losing your child is knowing that he committed such a horrific crime. Shudder.

What else is in the news? What’s up with you?

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About Elisa

I am a journalist and online organizer who is the co-publisher of this blog. When I am not online, I am shuttling around my two kids, an 8-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter.

37 thoughts on “Monday Morning Open Thread

  1. I think your plan, short times alone while you are close, is a good one. It depends on the kid. My DD, who was super responsible, was also a super scaredy cat and never wanted to be home alone. DS has been “chill” with it for a long time. While I run to the store? probably 9 or 10. Home alone after school? He was almost 12….and had a long list of local phone numbers and strict instructions.

  2. Similar to Sue– home alone while i went to the store– probably 8-9… home alone after school 12… home alone for long stretches on a weekend afternoon if I have something else to do– probably 11-12… home alone at night? not there yet.. Liza’s fine being home alone but not when it’s dark… ;-)

  3. I’m not there yet, but I think being home alone depends on the kid. My son seems much like Ari, and I could see leaving him alone in two years. But we don’t have a land line right now, and that’s something I would need to have to feel safe.

    • I was home alone after school with my brother, 4 years younger, around sixth or seventh grade. I loved the responsibility of getting him off the bus and getting us a snack, feeding the dog, and getting and homework done before my parents got home. That’s my personality though, and my grandma was 15 min away in an emergency.

  4. I agee it depends on the kid. I think my son would be matue enough a 9 or 10 for stay alone for an hour or so however he also tends to be anxious so he might be older before he is comfortable. I also wouldn’t want him to feel responsible for his sister who appears to be more of a risk taker :) My DH would also be more cautious then me.

    I don’t really remember how old I was when I was first home alone because I am the youngest but by the time I was 7 or 8 and my oldest sister was 11 we would be left alone during the day for short periods.

    • the first time we left Liza alone it was for about 20 minutes while Kelly and I took an evening walk… I think she was about 7. we came home and she was outside on our (now deceased) elderly neighbors stoop keeping her company while she had her evening cigarette she said ” I got Lonely and Muriel looked like she needed company” it was adorable.

    • Yeah, my 8yo would be fine home alone, but she’s not the one I have to worry about : ). Her little brother is also probably fine on his own, but at 5, he can also get into a sticky situation quickly. She’s just a little too young to be in charge of him unattended.

  5. I leave my two alone for errands like going to the grocery store or whatever up to about at hour and in town. I will leave the 8 year old alone for short ones like dropping his brother at practice. At 12 my older one is old enough to be in charge for a whole evening if we wanted, but he isn’t comfortable at night yet either, plus I start worrying about arguing if they are left alone too long. It shouldn’t be too much longer though before we could go out to dinner without a babysitter. That would be nice.

  6. I read the article about the girl riding the bus and I have to say that I feel sympathy for the school administrator. Chances are they were just CYA because if anything happens they are always blamed. There were probably better ways to go about it then calling child services however.

  7. Our situation is somewhat different in that our kids never had a younger sibling that they were looking out for — but I left them alone to run to the grocery store for 30 minutes starting when they were 6. I remember the first time very distinctly because we had gone over all the instructions — don’t answer the door, don’t answer the phone, etc — and they were just watching PBS kids shows on TV. The store is 3/4 mile away and I just had to pick up a few things so I was probably gone for less than 30 minutes. When I got back, DS met me at the door and said, “Grandpa called and he said something about Uncle Buster died.” So…..great…..first time I leave them alone, and we get a message that a relative has died. Way to traumatize your kids. Actually, they were fine, I was the one freaked out that they might possibly have been freaked out.

    My brother and I walked home from school by ourselves when I was in first grade and he was in 2nd. We were alone for about 90 minutes; mom taught at the junior high and dad at the high school, so we were alone until mom and dad got home. We did have stay at home moms on either side but I don’t remember ever needing to call on them for anything.

  8. This summer my BIL and his wife were visiting us. One morning while the kids (8 and 5) were watching TV, I decided to run out to get coffee. It was about 8 am, and my BIL and his wife were still down in the basement sleeping or reading, so I just left without disturbing them. I figured it was ok if they were sleeping, the kids knew where to find them in case of emergency.

    I was gone about 10 minutes, and about 5 minutes after I got back my BIL and his wife walked in the front door! They had been gone on a walk the whole time. The kids were just watching TV, totally unaware that I’d left them home alone for the first time!

    I think 10 would be a good age for DD to be alone for a little while, but with DS around it’s tough. I don’t want her to feel like she’s in charge of him, or panic if there was an emergency. We do have a landline with our phone number sharpied on the front, and DD knows to use it for 911. But, I think about things like her little brother choking or a trip-and-fall and a big gash on the forehead…I don’t know that she’d be ready for that kind of situation.

  9. I think we are all saying the same thing – it SO depends on the child! My oldest was absolutely fine on his own at a younger age (7 or so) than my youngest (closer to 10).

    In your case, there is a younger child involved too so that would influence my decision (and perhaps make me lean more towards DH on the topic even though my inclination has always been to be more relaxed!). While Ari might be mature enough to handle being alone for short while, will Eli be OK with it? Will Ari be able to handle things if Eli gets lonely or scared or just generally doesn’t behave?

  10. That is great about the protests in Ireland over the death of Salita Halappanavar. I have a friend from several years ago who lives in Lyon, France now, and she put on Facebook over the weekend that one of the big anti-gay protests was occurring right under their window. Her son was thinking of throwing buckets of water down on the people but her husband told him not to. They ended up writing their opinions on paper and then folding it into paper airplanes and throwing them down into the crowd. I told my DH and he came up with a variety of creative things that could be tossed down on the crowd.

  11. I was home alone at age 8 and that was fine. My daughter needed to be quite a bit older. You have to know your kids.

    Go read “Tales of a 4th grade Nothing” by Judy Blume or any of the Beverley Cleary books and be amazed at the things kids did on their own in the city.

  12. Nice Downs Syndrome article. I loved the response of the kid who said he thought the comparison of Obama to him was actually rather accurate.

    One thing I wish the anti-abortion people who are especially concerned about Downs abortions would take up is that their ideological brethren make it much harder to raise a Downs child and make their future as adults more tenuous. Downs kids grow up to be Downs adults who often can make their way, but not usually all on their own: they depend on Medicaid and Social Security and other social services. I would find it very hard to bring such a child into the world without a very large extended family that was prepared to care for him into his elder years.

  13. I’d be fine leaving him alone for a short time, but less so being “in charge” of a younger sibling. Being able to take care of yourself in case of something drastic is less difficult than needing to remember to think of someone smaller.

    In breaking news, I’m very glad that it’s a short week.

  14. I think our kids were around 11 when we left them home alone. They’re kind of chickens and don’t like to be alone. It’s more about their comfort level than about mine.

    I do know a lady who used to leave her kids alone at a young age (like 9 & 7) and she’d pay the older one to babysit and the younger one to behave himself. It worked out because they both wanted to get paid.

  15. I gave strep throat to my younger kids. Bah. Our ped was kind enough to prescribe antibiotics to the older two sight unseen as they all share a bedroom and we have an immunocompromised dad in the house. Sigh. I feel fine at least. I went in as soon as I had a fever and was put on antibiotics before the results came back based on how my throat appeared. I’m guessing the drs aren’t too concerned about creating a superbug when there is a cancer patient in the house that needs protection. I don’t know.

  16. We’ll leave the 10yo and 7 yo home alone for a short time. They both have house keys so if someone isn’t home when they get home from school they can let themselves in. I know they are fine for a little while. Sometimes they stay by themselves, more the 10yo then the 7 yo. DH is more willing to let the 7yo home alone then me. We haven’t left the 4yo with them. That seems like too much responsibility for the older sisters.

    The 10yo and 7yo walk to school together and if for some reason, only 1 is going, then an adult walks with them. None of us are comfortable with them walking solo.

  17. I left my DD alone in an emergency last year (so she was seven). My son had split his toe open terribly and needed to be taken to the emergency room. My husband was ten minutes away. So I left her on her own while I rushed the boy out. All was fine, of course. But she proceeded to tell EVERYONE how she got to stay on her own. She even wrote an essay at school about it. And the major embarrassment that I felt about it (I had to explain to anyone and everyone that it was an emergency, only ten minutes, etc) let me know that it probably wasn’t the right age to do it regularly just yet! And I’m not sure that I’ll EVER be able to leave my two in a house alone. Between the fighting, the power struggles, and the general mayhem….they just are not trustworthy as a team.

    • My kids were not safe to leave in a room together for a while. One trip to ER for stitches and two incidents of climbing on the roof later, they seem to have calmed down a bit. Sometimes they build with Legos, sometimes they jump on the beds, sometimes they scream and kick and fight…but they don’t seem to be trying to actually get maimed/killed these days.

  18. I stayed up late grading tonight. It.never.ends. I can’t grade another speech and need to go to bed. Which explains why I’m up late surfing the internets. #Ineverlearn

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