Would You Leave Your 7 Yr OId Home Alone?[twitter]We didn’t, but we thought about it.

In our new world of parenting without a net, compromises need to be made and, once again, we find ourselves faced with tough parenting choices. In the US, this sort of decision would bring the wrath of child services to our door, but should it?

Day 5 of the school year and we have our first sick day. For the 3rd time in as many months, Zacharie is down with strep throat, this time it’s likely tonislitis. He started to get a fever on the weekend, and wasn’t very excited to go and play at the beach on the last day of summer, and Jen knew something was up.

A look in his throat showed his tonsils were swollen, he had pus pockets, and was really and truly sick. Tonsilitis is contagious until you treat it with antibiotics, while others shrug it off and toss their kids off to school, we’re trying not to be like that. Which means Z has to stay home.

When you are a family with 2 working parents, no day home options, no nanny, and no relatives nearby, this is the kind of curve ball you hate.

Jen and I had planned to have the boys looked after on pro-d days and during the spring, summer, and winter breaks, but we didn’t anticipate the sick days. Having a nanny meant that we always had someone at home for those sick days. Now that we’re parenting without that safety net, what do we do?

My schedule is quite particular. A radio host is a solo job. I do it or nobody does it. If I’m not there, the show doesn’t go on. For half the year we are in ratings, which means an absolute blackout on holidays and time off, unless it’s deathly necessary. He has played with the microphone in the past.

Zacharie on the radio

Jennifer’s job is in sales. She’s on the road visiting clients all day, so her schedule is flexible. There are days she needs to do paperwork at home, and that just happens to be today. So she can work around a sick little Z lying on the couch.

So I have to go to work, Jen can work around it. This time. Still, Charlie needs to get to school. Zacharie, being contagious, shouldn’t really get dressed up and leave the house.

So how do you work around it? The school is 4 blocks from our house, Jen could run Charlie quickly to class and be home in 30 minutes. Do you leave a 7yr old at home alone for half an hour? I don’t really think it’s a problem, apart from Z likely getting spooked at being home alone.  So we skipped that option.

In the end, Zacharie piled into the car in his PJs  sat in the car for the 10 minutes it took for Jennifer to drop Charlie off at his class. Thankfully it was snowing today and not a worry to leave him alone in the car for a few minutes, unlike the mom who left hers in the car while she went for a job interview.

The juggling of unanticipated circumstances when you’re parenting without a net, means rules get bent, broken, and interpreted in different ways. Things that seem ridiculous on the surface are suddenly the most reasonable way to deal with a problem.

I only have one sick day with a son to worry about. I can’t imagine single working parents trying to entertain their kids over a summer vacation only to be tossed in jail for making the best decision under tough circumstances.

On a day like today, I was close to saying it was okay for my 7 yr old to stay home alone for 30 minutes. Would you have made that call?

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