At some point on Tuesday morning as I was about to embark on my whirlwind trip to New York, Dave and I realized that he had an after school meeting that day, leaving our kids without adult supervision for over two hours.  After pointing fingers at each other for not communicating working together to solve the problem we jointly created, it was agreed that this length of time for the boys to be alone together was permissible.  It was probably the longest stretch that we have left them to their own devices in their short lives.  It has been a process getting to this place.

Our journey to Home Alone Status started about a year ago when we began to do the math.

X=  Oldest son’s age

Y= Youngest son’s age

£ = The amount of aggravation associated with taking children with us or finding a sitter

Z= Average age that we were when our parents left us home alone

CP = Age that child protective services officers would consider okay should something go horribly wrong

P = Probability that something will go horribly wrong

(X-Y)£  ≤ Z÷ CP×P = Age to Abandon (ATA)

After not being able to do anything with this formula, we moved to a simpler model which works remarkably well in any situation:

(What My Mother Says) x 1

And so it began.  We would leave the boys for 15 minutes while running errands around town.  Gradually, this time period got a bit longer.  Soon we found ourselves comfortable leaving them for an hour so long as they were armed with our cell phone numbers and forbidden to go outside.  For every incremental chunk of time we added, I was apprehensive.  But it only took one successful stint at the longer time frame for me to be at ease.

Personally,  I am not at all worried that someone will break in and hurt them; I’m worried that they will hurt each other.  Or lose the dog.

I know one Mom who came up with an ingenious plan of offering her older son $5 to watch the younger son.  She then offered the younger son $5 to listen to the older son.   That approach works, until someone doesn’t live up to their end of the contract, at which point there is a horrible death spiral for which there is no known recovery.  So I haven’t gone there.  But I havent really needed to.

The boys did remarkably well on their own on Tuesday.  Strangely though, when Dave and I are out of the house, the little shits angels magically get along.  It’s as if they save the incessant Cain and Abel routine JUST FOR US.  Which makes me mad.  And a little curious because it begs a variation of the age old philosophical question about the tree falling in the woods.  If an sibling infraction occurs in a home when there is no parent to address it, did the infraction really happen?  I think we need to test this theory a bit more.  Dave and I are going to go missing more often.   Just don’t tell Child Protective Services.  Or my mother.


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