“You see mom…I’m okay.” The doll said with a huge smile. She was lying across the love seat, playing on her Ipod while the television droned on in the background; the dog nestled against her torso. “Being okay is good…still doesn’t mean I have to like it…” I replied and walked out of the living room. Opening the refrigerator door, I grabbed a beer, opened the can and took a nice long sip. I had a stressful night…
I know my kids are growing up. As much as I’m ready for them to spread their wings and fly, another part of me wants them to remain small. My mind constantly goes back to when they were little and the power struggles we had then-which aren’t much different from they are today only on a smaller scale. The boy and I don’t discuss things anymore. Instead we get into shouting matches. “You two are too loud!” My hubby will interrupt. “This is the only way mom hears what I’m saying” the boy argues. As the other parent I know I shouldn’t allow his shouts to elevate my voice in return…but unfortunately they do. My impassioned pleas for him to listen to ME his MOTHER and my sage advice needs to be made with inside voices-but rarely do. “Bay if you would just stop arguing every single point…” I say…which fall upon deaf ears; regardless the volume employed.
Saturday night the doll was set to accompany me to a friend’s house (40 minutes away) that evening, even though I knew she would be bored. We had made plans to have a “couples” get together, several weeks earlier, but life’s circumstances prevented my husband from being in town. In addition the boy went with him., thus leaving the doll in my care, alone. “You could just stay home…” my husband suggested. “I could, you’re right…but we’re making packaged dinners for this winter. I’m providing the chicken…” I explained. “Mom, can’t I just stay home alone?” the doll asked. “Alone? On a Saturday night? Absolutely not!” I replied.
Saturday morning while watching our girls’ volleyball game I said to my BFF, “By the way the doll will be with me tonight”. “Really? Why?” She asked. “Hubby and the boy are out-of-town…” I started to say. “I would have thought she’d rather stay home and read a book rather than hang out with us..” she replied. I’m not giving her the choice. I don’t want her to stay home alone….” I replied. “Oh…” She said and the conversation dropped. As I sat there and watched the game, I began to reconsider my position; an imaginary pro and con list came into being…but I was still unwilling to budge from my original position.
“Doll, it’s not that I don’t trust you…I do. I just don’t like the thought of you being home alone at night.” I explained. Shaking her head in agreement I asked, “What do you think?” “Mom, I understand what you’re saying…but I think I’ll be fine if I stay home…” she replied. Nodding my head, understanding her position I smiled. “I’m sure you will be…but I’m not willing to take the chance you won’t….” She nodded resigned to my plan.
The doll is my responsible kid. As the two go, the doll unlike her brother, tends to remember everything-not just what she’s interested in. Rare is the day when I hear her utter the words “I forgot”. When their father and I began leaving them in the evenings-trusting them to stay home, the boy was twelve and the doll nine. The belief they would be safe and sound at home was entrusted more to the doll-for her commonsense; than the boy for his age and size. She has always been the more responsible of the two.
So why was I having so much trouble letting her stay home alone this one time? “I don’t trust the bozo’s out there who might try something…” I heard myself say to her. “It’s not that I don’t trust you…I don’t trust them…” I explained. “Mom, just who are “them” you’re talking about?” She asked.
“The unknown” I acknowledged to myself. I’m afraid of leaving my baby to the unknown. In a few short years both of my kids will be on their way-away from their dad and I. As much as we like to pretend we’re excited for them I find myself feeling sorry for myself that they are growing up so fast. Allowing her to stay home alone is giving her another token of independence…permission to keep moving on-away from her dad or more importantly me. If she accompanied me to the party, while she would be bored, she would still be my baby… not my independent and growing into a nice young woman doll.
“Doll, I’ll tell you what… there’s supposed to be thunderstorms headed this way tonight. I don’t trust the dog to not pee or poop throughout the house because of the thunder. But if you’re home with her…perhaps she won’t be as afraid…”I said to her. “Okay…” she replied, with surprise in her voice. “You are not allowed to tell anyone you are home alone-no one-not on the internet, none of your friends, no one, got it?” I asked. “Mom, I wouldn’t do that….” “Doll…you could let it slip without even realizing this. So why not grouse about how your brother is driving you nuts tonight…? I suggested. “Okay Mom.” she said. “Oh and do not open the door for anyone…got it?” “Mom, I’ll be fine.”
As I pulled out of the driveway, I argued with myself the entire drive to my friends home. In addition I could not allow myself to relax-to the point they’re used to seeing me. “Why didn’t you bring her with you?” One of them asked. “I wanted to…but she would have been bored…” I replied honestly. “True…but then you would be relaxed…” He replied. I laughed and said, “Perhaps”.
A few hours later when I pulled into our driveway, the house looked the same as when I left.
We both survived the night.
One a little sad, the other triumphant.
Both of us changed.