We’ve been slowly inching towards the day where the kids start staying home alone from time to time.
There are a lot of reasons why they should. They’re old enough and responsible enough. That’s the primary thing. But eventually saving a mortgage payment’s worth of cash on daycare every month – that’s another. Watching them grow and self-actualize. Knowing that they’re in their own space, able to do their homework and tend to the pets and take ownership of the home in a cool new way.
But I’ll tell you a secret. The thing I was looking forward to the most wasn’t the personal growth. It wasn’t their settling into our home in a more meaningful way. It wasn’t even the prospect of extra cash.
It was the fact that we ordered a phone for the house. A bare-bones Android deal.
And for the first time, I would be able to text with my girls.
Bananas, right? We were about to take this massive step, and all I could think about was texts from my daughters.
I know people talk a lot of smack about texting. It’s not a high-quality interaction, really. Not the same as talking face to face. Not the same as picking up the phone.
But I love texts. I love language and writing and reading, and I love the warmth you get from that fleeting contact with someone you can’t wait to see again. (I’m not always good at texting people back right away, as time has a bad habit of getting away from me, but I love it nonetheless.)
I spend most of my time away from my girls, when I do the math. During the week, I’m at work. They’re at school. I wait from the time they get on the bus in the morning to the time when I pick them up in the evening to hear from them. On weekends, I don’t always bring them along if I’m running errands. And during those times, before we see each other in person, I miss them. Some days, I miss them a lot. So I jumped at the opportunity to have a phone around that they can use to check in. Altruistically, it gives them security and confidence. Selfishly, it gives me a little boost to get me over the finish line and bring me home with a smile on my face.
After the phone arrived, we trialled it with a quick grocery run. NJ was out and I needed stuff for supper, so the girls locked the door behind me and settled in. They were clearly nervous – well, the littlest was, at any rate – and so I touched base when I got to where I was going.
“Hey girls,” I said. “I’m at the grocery store.”
“OK love you,” came the response.
And right there, everything I wanted from the girls having access to a phone while home alone came though. In an exchange of ten words, I knew their lifeline was working, they knew where I was and what I was doing, I knew they were OK, and we got to send each other that little bloom of warmth you get when a text rolls in from someone you’ve been waiting to hear from.
“Love you too,” I replied.
“Love you more!” they wrote back.
My big girls are staying home alone. They’re growing. Self-actualizing. Taking ownership of the home. Becoming more responsible. It’s amazing.
And – bonus – I’m getting texts from my daughters.