Mothering Forum banner

1 - 20 of 43 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
235 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
My DSD, who is six, is picked up off the bus on Wednesdays by a friend of ours. He stays with her from 4 until 5:45 when I get home from work. She normally goes home with a classmate on Fridays, again from 4 until 5:45. This week, her friend had a doctor's appointment, and our friend said he would be more than happy to add a day. On Wednesday, as he was leaving, he told me, "See you Friday!" You can see where this is going, I'm sure...<br><br>
I got home from work yesterday, and didn't notice his car outside. Not very strange, they will sometimes go to his house instead, to play video games. There was a note on the garage door, which I assumed would let me know the pickup or drop-off plan. Instead, the note read, "I'm home. From HA." (Her initials). STILL not suspecting anything, I walked inside, to find her on the couch, watching TV. She turned to look at me, and said, in a perfectly calm, cheerful voice, "Nobody was there to get me off the bus, so I walked home by myself. I'm in first grade, so I'm old enough."<br><br>
Now, this is actually true. Her school's policy is not to let kindergartners off the bus unless there is a parent or babysitting waiting for them. If no one is there, they will be driven back to school and their emergency contacts will be called. After kindergarten... fair game, I guess.<br><br>
Here's what she told me, as I stood there in a state of shock... No one was there to get her, so she thought maybe someone would be waiting for her at home. (This has never happened. Someone has ALWAYS been there to get her off the bus.) She walked home, and only got confused once as to which house we lived in. (They are town homes, four connected, and I still get confused sometimes as to which we live in). She used our garage door code to get in the house, and made sure to thank me for teaching it to her last week. She says she walked in, realized no one was home, and just... decided to go about her business, I guess, secure in the knowledge that, "When the clock said 5:45, I knew you would get home." She realized I wouldn't see our friend's car outside, and didn't want me to leave, hence the note on the garage door, which she said she put there after changing her clothes and realizing no one was coming home for a while. She then shut the garage door after herself. She had to jump to reach it, and has never done it before.<br><br>
After changing her clothes, she did her homework, then she turned on the TV, which she had to stand on the couch to do, because she's too short for the signal on the remote to connect with the box. She has never in her life turned the TV on by herself. She watched TV for the next hour. Scooby Doo first, then Minute to Win it. She had not gotten a snack, because she couldn't open the applesauce by herself, she told me, and she didn't think it would be safe to use the microwave without me or her daddy being home.<br><br>
So. In general, she is an amazingly mature, calm, and very smart kid. And never did I think, in a million years, she would have been able to do something like this. We have never gone over what to do in a situation like this, because... who would put a 6 year old in a situation like this?? She has been asking for about four months when she would be old enough to stay home alone. We told her we thought 10 would be a good age to try it for 20 minutes or so if we needed to go grocery shopping, but as the time got closer, we could reevaluate.<br><br>
She wasn't scared, or worried. She trusted that I would come home to her, and she had enough self confidence to just go about our evening routine... by herself. She did mention she thought it would be a good idea for us to get a phone at home (we use our cell phones) because, "Then I could've called you to tell you to hurry up."<br><br>
We will be getting a pre-paid cell phone tomorrow to keep at home, with our numbers programmed into it. As well as obviously more dependable child-care. When we finally got ahold of him at 10:30 last night, he had just... forgotten. And was very sorry. She wanted to know when she could do it again, and was disappointed to learn that 10 was still our answer.<br><br>
When I think about all the things that COULD HAVE happened, well... I can't even go there. Mostly what I'm feeling right now is pride. We had, in no way, done anything to prepare her for this. She is the only child in our house, thus far, and it has now occurred to me... we don't really expect a lot out of her, other than cleaning up after herself. We haven't taught her how to do a whole lot in the way of looking after herself, and didn't really expect to for a while. We have never told her not to use the microwave by herself, or the important of "leaving a note." She just... knew. She knew what to do to take care of herself until we returned to take over.<br><br>
Could your kids do this at 6? Should we have done more in the way of preparing her for something like this? What more should we do now? Also... I need a hug. Man that was scary.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
11,487 Posts
She sounds very mature. I'm glad she was okay. That would have definitely freaked me out to think of my 6 yo home alone for an hour and 45 minutete - but your DD did really well. A phone would have been helpful so she could call you (or a trusted neighbor to call from/stay with), but really, it sounds like she knew just what to do to stay calm, happy, and safe.<br><br>
I agree with you that 10 would be about the earliest I would consider short stints at home alone.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
167 Posts
Wow, you have one amazing child!<br>
I'd be proud, too, and also annoyed, but not sure how much; it's human to forget something out of routing, but for a child.... someone elses?? If my friends ask me to help them out, I practically tattoo myself with reminders!!<br><br>
Fabulous ending.<br><br>
You're right, it's best not to go THERE!
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
42,757 Posts
I would be proud of how well my child handled herself in such a situation and a bit horrified.<br><br>
I agree about waiting until a child is ten or eleven to let them be at home by themselves for a bit. I think there are laws regarding that in some states.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
14,239 Posts
My dd couldnt have done it at that age and not even at 9 which she is now. She would have been lost and terrified <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/greensad.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="greensad">
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
27,052 Posts
All of the above. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/orngbiggrin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="orange big grin"><br><br>
Your DSD is AWESOME. Definitely a kid you can let stay home while you grocery shop and such as soon as her 10th birthday rolls around. (I'd even say 9 if it's legal in your state <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/orngbiggrin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="orange big grin">)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,457 Posts
She must have felt so empowered. Now you can have whatever still drink you favor and take a deep breathe as you wait four years.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,346 Posts
While you certainly don't want to put her in that situation on purpose, what a relief to know she is as capable as she is! In you place, I'd be very proud. Be sure to tell her.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,869 Posts
Wow - that is amazing. I think my dd could do that (she is 6) but my oldest ds at 6 couldn't have. I have talked to my dd about what she needs to do if for some reason no one is there to get her off the bus (go down the list of safe neighbors until someone is home) but I can't imagine her actually having to go through it.<br><br><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/hug.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="hug">
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,312 Posts
I, and most of my friends, were allowed to be home alone at age 6 (this was overseas though, much safer than in the U.S. there)<br><br>
My sister was allowed to stay home with me at 4-5, when I was 7-8.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
234 Posts
<div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
<div class="smallfont" style="margin-bottom:2px;">Quote:</div>
<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">
<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Red Pajama</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/15435653"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">While you certainly don't want to put her in that situation on purpose, what a relief to know she is as capable as she is! In you place, I'd be very proud. Be sure to tell her.</div>
</td>
</tr></table></div>
i agree. i understand all the conflicting emotions you are feeling, but it is also such a reassuring thing to know that your child is so mature and capable! she did great!
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
11,209 Posts
Super for your little one. So good to know that she didn't panic and made good choices and took care of herself. Go her!<br><br>
I think having a phone at home is a good idea, for whatever comes up... and I also agree with giving her more responsiblity, since she seems to want it and seems to be capable. Like... maybe she can get herself off the bus and walk herself home now, especially when you're there waiting for her. The school seems to think first graders are able to do this, and your DSD did just fine.<br><br>
You could put some sort of a marker over your door to clarify which is right, too - I remember living in a townhouse complex when I was 4 and 5 and my father mounted an eagle sculture over the door the day we moved in, because all the doors looked the same. FWIW, I roamed the complex freely at 4 and 5, and handled small emergencies on my own. Back then (the 1970s) it apparently wasn't odd... I also walked to school for first grade by myself.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,783 Posts
When my daughter rode the bus, I told her which neighbors houses she should go to if nobody was home. There were a few times I lost track of time and even though I was home I didn't make it outside in time. One of the other parents watched her go home and made sure I was there before leaving.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,933 Posts
I think most kids could handle that at six. The current trend for infantilizing our kids does them no favors.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
961 Posts
<div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
<div class="smallfont" style="margin-bottom:2px;">Quote:</div>
<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">
<div>Originally Posted by <strong>choli</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/15436240"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I think most kids could handle that at six. The current trend for infantilizing our kids does them no favors.</div>
</td>
</tr></table></div>
When i look at the group of peers that my 6 yo has.. I'd guess that maybe a third of them could handle being alone.. and less than that could handle it as well as the op's dsd did.<br>
Of course thats a very small sampling.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,067 Posts
<div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
<div class="smallfont" style="margin-bottom:2px;">Quote:</div>
<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">
<div>Originally Posted by <strong>abimommy</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/15435502"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I would be proud of how well my child handled herself in such a situation and a bit horrified.<br><br>
I agree about waiting until a child is ten or eleven to let them be at home by themselves for a bit. I think there are laws regarding that in some states.</div>
</td>
</tr></table></div>
Really there are laws in I think 2 states. Kids can be home alone when they are ready. Clearly you had no plan to leave her alone nor would I latch-key my 6 year old but I'm privileged to not have that choice come up. One of my friends is a state legislator and said that the year her son was in 1st, one of the 1st graders walked home and stayed by himself until his mom got there.<br><br>
I really think a lot of moms from other countries would think we're uptight ... as well as moms a few generations ago here. My older first cousin was latch keyed from 4 including while his mother was at work full time and he was not in school. Yeah that's another story.<br><br>
You should be proud of her and of your parenting.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,067 Posts
<div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
<div class="smallfont" style="margin-bottom:2px;">Quote:</div>
<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">
<div>Originally Posted by <strong>choli</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/15436240"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I think most kids could handle that at six. The current trend for infantilizing our kids does them no favors.</div>
</td>
</tr></table></div>
I do agree, though I've no plans to leave my kids alone for the afternoon.<br><br>
My 5 year old would, if suddenly dropped off at the house alone, decide that LIFE HAS GOTTEN REALLY SUPER COOL! and would go about his business being sure not to notify me by phone.<br><br>
My 6 year old would call me immediately and demand I return home.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,450 Posts
<div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
<div class="smallfont" style="margin-bottom:2px;">Quote:</div>
<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">
<div>Originally Posted by <strong>choli</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/15436240"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I think most kids could handle that at six. The current trend for infantilizing our kids does them no favors.</div>
</td>
</tr></table></div>
I agree also. I do get tired of seeing older kids who can't manage even a shower without help from an adult.<br><br>
Still, I wouldn't purposely leave a six year old home alone. Even if I knew she was capable. I have neighbors who's kids are five and almost seven. They stay home by themselves every day. They just eat a snack, use the video games and watch tv. They do fine. (but, this particular mom is an idiot...not just because of her kids, she's just an idiot)<br><br>
BUT....since this six yr old has proven that she is wise and responsible, I think it is time for her to have a little more autonomy. I'd also make sure there were snacks that she could get to herself, that she was more than welcome to turn on the tv, and able to use a phone by herself. (my kid couldn't manage a phone until she was nearly nine.. no idea why they baffled her so much)<br><br>
I'm very happy that she's so clear headed. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/joy.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="joy">
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
15,952 Posts
<div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
<div class="smallfont" style="margin-bottom:2px;">Quote:</div>
<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">
<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Red Pajama</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/15435653"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">While you certainly don't want to put her in that situation on purpose, what a relief to know she is as capable as she is! In you place, I'd be very proud. Be sure to tell her.</div>
</td>
</tr></table></div>
Exactly. My DD1 at 6 would of been fine as well. I have concerns about the child in other areas but doings things like what your DD did is where she is capable.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
235 Posts
Discussion Starter #20
You are all right, we are incredibly proud of her, and we made sure to let her know how incredible she did. We will definitely be giving her more responsibility, as well as making it easier for her to do some stuff for herself. (She is a tiny thing, so there's a lot she can't reach around the house... example, she can pour herself drinks, but can't reach the cups.) We'll be making the house a little more "user friendly" for all of us. I also love the idea of making our house different than the others... why hadn't I thought of that? A seasonal wreath or one of her art projects hanging on the door would do it. We only know one of our neighbors, but you're right... we keep to ourselves too much, and need to start making these overtures for her sake. The friend she goes home with on Fridays lives across a busy street... not that she couldn't handle it, but something closer to home would be nice. We will definitely discuss letting her walk home by herself off the bus now.<br><br>
She can definitely already get her own snacks, she just wanted applesauce or a piece of quiche, she told me. And she won't eat cold quiche. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/img/vbsmilies/smilies/eat.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Eat"> So she waited for me to get home to warm it up for her.<br><br>
Mummyofan, this is something we're really struggling with right now... how upset to be with our friend. We had touched base with him about adding the additional day on both Wednesday and Thursday. He doesn't have children yet, but does have a nice friendship with our daughter. On the one hand, you wonder how he could have forgotten a 6 year old, but on the other... he doesn't have that sense that parents get of thinking about their child at all times, at least on some level. And to be completely honest... my amazing, loving mother forgot me a time or two growing up. I know he'll be hurt if we switch to different childcare on Wednesdays (although summer is coming in two weeks and she'll be with family members then) but... I'm not sure I'm okay with leaving things as they are, and hoping for the best.
 
1 - 20 of 43 Posts
Top