We are from Denver. Not 'just outside Denver in the 'burbs' Denver, but Denver Denver. LoDo. Cap Hill. The city of. 80206 has always been the kids' zip code. And when you live in 80206, there are things you do like walk to school and ride your bikes to the park and there are things you don't do, like any of that alone.
Right before we moved to Vancouver, we were just starting to toy with the idea of letting the kids be home alone. We'd give them 10 minute spurts alone while we ran to Sevies for milk, but not much more, no matter how ardently they plead for it. Because Denver is awesome in the same way god is; you totally dig him, but you're kind of scared shitless of him at the same time.
Case in point? A year after we moved, our old next door neighbor shot and killed a 2 year old right in front of the house we lived in. Like, on our old front steps. Like, right here.
And we lived in the really burbish, hippy neighborhood. A few years before that, one of our neighbors decided he would go rape a bunch of the women in our neighborhood. Like, 80 year olds and 20 year olds. At the same time. And he lived at the end of that block I lived on, and two houses to the right. But at the same time, we had mom & pop ice cream parlors and yarn shops.
My point is that, for the most part, we kept our kids within arm's reach, just in case.
But since we've been here in sunny Vancouver, the boys have gotten used to a little more freedom, mostly because my neighbors actually scolded me for hovering over the kids too much. We were reminded that this wasn't Denver, and that in our little community the kids enjoy and appreciate a bit longer leash. That it is good for them, and I ought to relax. So we gave this whole pre-teen freedom thing a shot, since they are quite a bit older now, and they're quite a bit over being smothered, and so far my neighbors have been proven correct. At first we'd let just them go outside all by themselves, and then we tried leaving them for 30 minutes or so while we ran out for something. And then I started coming home just a little bit after they'd get home from school. And then I upped it to an hour. And then we left the boys for one whole evening. And then we let 1of3 babysit for a night, and it's all gone beautifully. Viva la Canada, yo.
They lock the extra locks when we're out, they know to not answer the door or the phone unless it's mom or dad on the caller id; they get it. They like it, and they don't want to blow it, so they've been really careful to abide by all of our rules while we're not here. Or at least they were.
When I told them about the BlogHer get-together we had on Sunday, their eyes did Gold Medal Worthy backflips into their heads and they said there was no way in Bikini Bottom they were coming to that thing. We agreed that they'd stay home and do some last minute chores (which have yet to be done, for the record) and that they could each have one friend over. Two neighbors were put on mom-alert to peek in my windows occasionally and make sure they weren't burning the joint down, and 3of3, Angella and I headed off without them for the whole day.
We came home to a fairly decent house, two living, breathing sons who were fed and didn't smell like anything I'd want to put on a petri dish, and two smiling neighborhood kids. I counted the day a success and told them both how proud I was of them, even if they hadn't answered the phone when I'd called, but erring on the side of caution is always a good choice in my book so high fives all around.
The next day, my sister in law called. She asked if 2of3 had told me she'd phoned, and he hadn't, and then she giggled and told me about the call they had.
He told her I wasn't home because I was at a work thing. He told her dad was at work, too. He told her that he was trying to not watch tv because it would rot his brain, and that he was duelling Pokemon cards while his brother was downstairs on the computer. He told her he was going to skateboard out front in just a little bit, and then he'd have a snack. And then he asked her just one, simple, little question...
Um, who is this?
Needless to say, they're coming to the next everything ever again with me.