Gone are the days where we have to scramble for a baby-sitter if we want to make plans. It’s great to be able to be spontaneous and see a movie on a whim or even run errands without dragging three kids in tow. With a 15-year old and 13-year old in the house, two of the dudes are old enough to be “in charge” and make sure their 9-year old brother is okay, although he’s a pretty self-sufficient guy. When we leave the three of them home alone, the main thing we have to worry about is the fighting. As long as they don’t kill each other, they’ll be fine. They know not to answer the door, or the phone, unless it’s us calling (what did we do before Caller ID?). They also know not go outside, although they do sometimes break that rule during the day.
We realized after the fact that we made one mistake for “home alone” prep the first time we left Big Dude alone. I think he was in 5th grade at the time. We were leaving the house for maybe an hour, but we reviewed explicit rules with him before we left.
“You may NOT answer the front door under any circumstances.”
“You may NOT answer the phone unless you see it’s us calling.”
“You may NOT go outside at all.”
We thought we covered all bases and left the house. When we returned an hour later, we saw right away we forgot one crucial rule. We walked into the kitchen and it was a disaster: Broken egg shells in the sink, yoke smeared on the counter, a buttered knife nearby, the butter and eggs not put back in the refrigerator, and a dirty frying pan on the stove.
“Big Dude, what happened in here?! It looks like the kitchen was ransacked!”
“I got hungry so I fried some eggs,” he calmly answered.
“You WHAT?!” I shrieked.
Yeah, I know, our fault. We forgot to tell him not to cook anything. It never crossed my mind to tell him not to use the stove or oven, mainly because the kid has never attempted to cook anything in his life. Of course, the second we leave the house, he decides he’s America’s Top Chef. We haven’t had any mishaps since then, except for the occasional phone call from one of the boys claiming that his big brother is beating the crap out of him or won’t let him play on the Xbox (yes, we have some control issues in the house).
When I retold the story to our neighbor who has a son the same age as Big Dude, she laughed hysterically. And since then, whenever she leaves her son home alone, the final thing she says to him as she’s heading out the door is, “…and don’t fry any eggs!”