Wednesday, May 7, 2008


I feel that I am being superficial in my thoughts, but something really bugged me today. I can't say that it 'bugged' me without explaining that it is my personal opinion and I just wish they didn't have to be home alone. I realize that their situations may not allow for their parents to always be home; I realize they may be fully independent and trustworthy. But I also realize how many convicted sex offenders live within a 25 mile radius - and those are the ones that have been caught. I'm not naive and I don't think they should be sheltered or put in a glass box. My parents allowed us to stay home alone at times, but it was usually when my brother Mike was 16 or older - and help was never less then across the street at the church my dad pastored and the neighbors 2 houses away always knew we were there alone and were close family friends.

I find it interesting that on my street alone there's such a diversity of parenting/homeschooling/and lifestyles. I guess it really makes my eyes open to how different we all really are. I appreciate more my own ability to be home with my kids and this still allows Ezra the freedom to go to the neighborhood friend's houses without handholding or being escorted over. It's just more fitting for our family this way - and for that I'm grateful. I still toy with the idea that my thought process here is somewhat superficial, although that's not my intent at all. It's more that I'd love to ask questions, figure out and understand beyond the obvious - but then that would be nosey!

My neighbors to the right's youngest daughter is 9, she is in 4th grade and she comes home at 2pm, gets off of the bus and lets herself into the house. To be there alone until sometimes as late as 630pm. Half of the time I catch myself peeping out of the blinds if I'm in the room to make sure no strange cars are in the driveway. My neighbors across the street have 2 kids, 10 and 7. Both are alone from 7am until the bus arrives at 8:15 am (school starts at 9:15 in the city) and then alone again from the time the bus drops them back off until 5:30pm.

I actually looked up 'latch key kid' and found an article about laws - North Carolina's laws are very vague: There is no age specified by law that a child can be left alone (this includes alone in the home OR in the car!) in North Carolina. Parents and caretakers must look at the child's maturity, the safety of the community, and access to emergency assistance. A child may be mature enough to stay alone, but not to care for younger siblings. If you are concerned that a child is left alone and is unsafe, call your county department of social services. However in Texas, for example, the law covering “abandoning or endangering a child,” a person commits an offense if they have custody, care or control of a child younger than 15 years, and intentionally leaves the child in any place under circumstances that expose the child to an unreasonable risk. It is the position of Child Protective Services that a school age child may be left in the home alone if he or she has the mental and physical ability to react in an emergency situation.

But who decides what's an unreasonable risk? I mean, if the house were to catch fire or suddenly be burglarized while a mental and physically able child is inside, does the law then turn to the fire or burglary as an unreasonable risk? It seems so touchy.

I guess reading some books recently on being a closer family unit, allowing our kids to be kids as often as possible, spending time together - real time, has made me feel sad for these kids somehow. They come over here, like tonight, and sit with us and talk with us, play and hang out. I had a realization after becoming more aware of my surroundings in this neighborhood, (we've lived in this neighborhood for 5 years now, and I'm just now curious enough to get to know my neighbors!)a few houses up from us is a family who has work from home parents and they home school their children - the "latchkey" kids tend to be at our house or theirs on a regular, almost daily basis. It can't be that we're that interesting, I often go to bed at night wondering if they're just craving the 'family' atmosphere. They have great parents, super nice people, and it's clear that they work very hard to support their families - I just wish there was a way for them to have a little more time together.