Being By Yourself
Hey, this is not an easy skill to learn. There are many adults who haven’t mastered it. But The-Oldest is taking this one on. He’s been booted out of daycare for the crime of being too old. Not that he’s upset by the eviction – in fact, it’s the exact opposite. He’s super excited to prove that he can be alone.
I think if it’s terrifying for anyone, it’s for the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world, aka his mom. It means he’s growing up, it means he’s alone with all sorts of knives, boiling pots of water, and strangers at the door, and it’s a harbinger of the very sad day when he gives his mom a hug and goes off to college or the school for professional Pokémon players.
So we prepare him as best we can. We enroll him in a course called, Kids In Control aka Home Alone. I imagine an instructor that teaches them all about how to electrify a doorknob or how to hang paint cans so they can bang villains on the head. These are things I don’t want him learning as I have an aversion to being electrocuted (and being hit in the head with a paint can, for that matter.)
But the course is really about what to do when certain things happen. What to do when someone comes to the door and wants in. What to do when you cut yourself making a wiener and peanut butter sandwich. What to do in case of a fire. Or an earthquake.
There is nothing, however, about what to do in case of the zombie apocalypse or an invasion by spider-like aliens with creepy tentacles.
I guess some things will still be left up to me.
FYI, there is a book. And a movie.
He’s also tasked with taking a baby-sitting course. It’s pretty much the same thing with a bit more CPR, what to do when a child chokes on a McToy and how to talk to the younger kids so they will listen.
Another FYI, there is no right way to do the latter, I personally believe it to be the holy grail of parenting.
The-Youngest is super excited that his older brother is taking the baby-sitting course. In his mind, his older brother could look after him, which means he could play ALL day and ignore anything his older brother says.
We have to tell him there is no way the oldest will be looking after the youngest on a regular basis. It’s not fair to the oldest and despite that the youngest swears on all his lego that he’ll listen to his older brother, he won’t and will likely try to see if he can make a crossbow with poisoned bolts and shoot it at the kid who points at him all the time.
So the oldest marches off to the classes like a POW in a Bridge Over the River Kwai.
There, judging by the notebook he’s given, he doodles a lot. About Terraria terrors and Minecraft monsters. When he brings home his book, some of the questions in it unanswered, the cover looking like a tattoo artist had made it his canvas for fantasy games, the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world and I began to doubt that he was learning anything.
So we remind him of what’s going to happen if he doesn’t pass. It’s the ‘stakes’ in a novel. It’s what happens if he fails. If he fails, he won’t be able to be alone, won’t be able to be the master of his days, we’ll find a daycare that takes older boys and send him there. Without his DS and with a list books he has to copy out word for word. Like Hamlet. Or something by Dickens.
The next week, he’s on task, and the week after that, and, by the answers he gives, he’s actually learning something. Over that time, we even get him to help when anything goes wrong.
“Hey, the youngest has a nosebleed! Come quick!” He tells us not to put the youngest’s head back, but have him lean forward, pinch it shut and get a Kleenex. If it doesn’t get better soon, we’re to call 911.
When I cut my hand while slicing tomatoes (and, I mean, who doesn’t), I call for him and he binds it up like I’m spurting blood from an artery.
He’s so good that I want to manufacture accidents, but the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world won’t let me hit myself with a hammer or set a fire to the neighbours hotrod. However, it’s clear that if I did either of those things, the-Oldest would be able to handle it.
Just in case, though, I give him the SAS handbook on survival. It tells you how to skin a rabbit. This may be important in any number of situations, not the least of which is I forgot to get supper. “Go next door, boy and get me that girl’s pet rabbit.”
Finally the day arrives for him to be alone. To be fair, with all the house showings I’ve had, I had to be over at his place, so he’s not alone, but I hide far away and let him be him. When lunch time comes, I show him how to make the world’s best sandwich. Before his mom and younger brother come home, we make tacos.
He watches TV, plays his games, puts the dishes away as part of our campaign to do good things every day and he looks after the dog when I have to jet back home for a bit.
In short, he kicks ass. He’s clearly capable of being on his own.
We’re proud of him.
The only challenge is, much to his surprise, boredom.
Being alone means, well, he’s alone. No one to talk to, no one to fight a boss with, no one to tell that he just watched the greatest video on the top 10 Shedonisms.
And perhaps that’s the biggest lesson to learn.
How to be by yourself.