Even though my 14 year old is more mature than his own grandpa (oh - is it 6pm, mum? Time for PJs and cocoa!), I worry about doing this. The law is woolly, with the guidelines being
- children under 12 are rarely mature enough to be left alone for a long period of time
- children under 16 shouldn't be left alone overnight
- babies, toddlers and young children should never be left alone.
We all know that the law is there to remind us of what should be common sense; of course babies should never be left alone. Of course you'd never leave your children overnight.
But can I leave my boys together for an afternoon in the school holidays, while I work? Sometimes I have to. And particularly now, as Tween's accident means he can't play sports for three months, which means his holiday club is out.
I feel very uncomfortable about it.
This, quite frankly, spells a pile of old bollocks for the summer holidays. It means that either a) I lean very heavily on the goodwill of other parents, unable to pay them back, because I'm always at work, b) leave the boys at home whilst I work, and risk them tearing each other to pieces over time allocation on the Xbox, or c) take unpaid leave. Which I can't afford. And honestly - work frowns on anyway (because we don't live in Sweden).
My boys beg me to leave them on their own. "You don't trust us," they wail. "Not like Freddie's mum - she leaves Freddie outside for DAYS." (He is left to his own devices A LOT.) And I try to explain to them that it's not that I don't trust them (although obviously it is) - it's just that, I don't trust ANYONE ELSE IN THIS GOD FORSAKEN WORLD. Without me there, they could step out into the road (dead), fall down a cliff (dead), put their heads in the oven (extremely uncomfortably hot). They could get picked up by a stranger (dead), fall into a man trap (dead), or drown in the bath. Dead.
And that, I try to explain to them, is why they need me. Because I am their life-support machine. I keep them alive.
Obviously I'm joking. A bit. I never say these things out loud. But I do say them in my head. And I know that they're not 4 and 2 anymore and I know that, if this were the 1970s, they'd both be out on their bikes everyday, climbing trees, playing chicken - and I would only see them at teatime. And they'd very probably be very much ok.
Where are the Yoof Clubs of old? The places where our teenagers could go, shoot some pool, put some tunes on the jukebox and rot their teeth by drinking too much pop? If your child is sporty, all well and good - there are clubs galore - but if they're on the nerdy side, the pull of the online monster is too much, and they're all tempted to spend the whole day with the curtains shut playing Shoot My Fucking Head Off. To death. And what's worse is - they think it's OK. (It isn't.)
|Teenagers. Not dead, but doing a YOOF drama project|
We don't have a Yoof Club round here. I'm not sure if they even exist anymore. Sodding arsing Government cuts.
So this summer will be spent stressing that I'm not being a good mum (as usual). Leaving my children at home to play with knives or browse GodKnowsWhat on the internet, whilst I chew my nails at work and try to stop myself from phoning them every quarter of an hour.
Parents of Teens and Tweens - how do you cope with the holidays? I would really appreciate your advice.
Ref: Gov website advice on leaving your child at home: https://www.gov.uk/law-on-leaving-your-child-home-alone