Almost ten she reminds me frequently. Soon to be double digits. Dear God, how did that happen? A decade? Really?
There is the constant physical growth. She’s long and lean and it seems 2 minutes after I buy her new pants or shirts, she’s sporting floods and complaining because her belly button is hanging out.
She’s most definitely a ‘Tween. I usually hate pop-culture descriptors, but this one is dead on. She’s not a little girl anymore and she most definitely (and thankfully) is not a teenager. Yet.
In recent weeks, she has informed me that she no longers wishes to eat from a kids plate, the character dishes kept in the lowest drawer for easy access. No, she’s ready for the glass plates, that the grown ups use, and no more plastic cups or utensils either. I am corrected, if forget. She is gentle, but she corrects, none-the-less.
Her room, she informed me, is just a little babyish for her, but she’s personalizing it to meet her needs, so it will be ok for now, She says this as if to warn me that a redecoration will be necessary in the not too distant future. I’m not ready to part with the light lavender walls or the border of large pastel flowers.
Last week was perhaps the the coup-de-grais of recent growth and development. An angst ridden conversation about why she can’t stay home alone. She IS nine after all. Don’t we trust her? Sweet Jesus, her Dad and I are in for a long ride through the teenage years.
The thing is, at nine, she is responsible and the factors that prevent me from even considering the idea of letting her stay by herself for any length of time are external, and completely beyond her control.
First, SHE’S NINE!!!! Responsible or not, she is nine years old and dammit, that is just too young to stay home alone. I mean there’s DSS to consider. I don’t know anyone in Social Services, and frankly, I’d like to keep it that way.
Next on my list of reasons why Fish can’t stay home alone is location. I grew up in suburban Philadelphia the houses were maybe 50 feet apart. Many in the neighborhood worked, but by the time I was staying home alone, I knew lots of our neighbors (from my days peddling Girl Scout cookies door-to-door) and could have gone to many of them for help if I needed it.
If she’s at home alone and something goes awry, she could run to her grandparents, but there have been and will continue to be large chunks of time when they will be enjoying their retirement in locations nowhere near our home. If they aren’t home, we’re talking a quarter of a mile walk to a neighbors house that we know. (Why yes, our zip code is EIEIO, thank you very much).
Aside from the foolishly practical reasons, there is the is the sentimental and emotional reason. I’M not ready for her to stay home alone. She’s my first and will always be my baby. I know that I have to let her go. I know she has to grow up and that she will do so MUCH faster than I am ready for her to do so, but still, SHE’S NINE!!!!
Despite warning me earlier in the evening, that she wanted to be talk to me about staying home alone, I was still unprepared when the conversation occurred. I tried to reassure her that this wasn’t about trust, that her Dad and I did trust her and that she had been demonstrating tremendous amounts of responsibility, but my statements sounded weak even to me. I tried to explain that is just wasn’t GAH “appropriate“ for a nine year old to be staying by herself. I explained that her Dad and I could get in trouble for leaving her home alone. I could see in her eyes, that her innocence and age appropriate naivete didn’t believe me. I’m secretly glad that she hasn’t had the life experience that will teach her that the world can be cruel, but still I don’t like being at odds with her. Yes, I know on a logical level that if I’m doing my job right, I’ll be at odds with her frequently during her teens years.
I suggested we talk with her Dad about this. He’s just better at explaining things that I am. I’m much more the ”because I said so“ type and I know that doesn’t fly anymore.
At some level I’ve known this was coming. I’m trying to prepare myself. I’m reading Queen Bees and Wanna Bees to familiarize myself with Girl World as it exists now, but it is slow going because I just am not ready to go there yet.
The Red Cross offers a class that teaches teens and tweens about staying home safely. The Recreation Committee has sponsored this class in the past. I’m optimistic they’ll do it again. She also has the AmerIcan Girl Book about staying home alone. I think I need to read it so that I can continue this discussion on her terms.
I don’t think I’ll ever really be ready, so I guess it is time to suck it up and plunge in, but, did I mention, SHE’S NINE!!!!