It has been one of those days. I had a mass of administrivia to get through at work, and half way through, I got a call from my girls’ school: Miss Ten the elder was feeling queasy and could I come and pick her up. Yes, I could, in half an hour. Frantic rush to get the trivia done, and I got to school an hour or so later. Working at home for the rest of the day.
After school, I had to get Ms Thirteen to her drama class. I left the Misses Ten together at home, as is my usual practice. The law in New Zealand says that you may not leave a child:
“without making reasonable provision for the supervision and care of the child, for a time that is unreasonable or under conditions that are unreasonable having regard to all the circumstances.”
I figure that the girls are fine at home alone, together, for 10 or 15 minutes, as I run their elder sister somewhere.
We’d been gone for about three minutes when my mobile phone rang. Ms Thirteen answered it. It turned out that Miss Ten the Elder had thrown up, and Miss Ten the Younger was caring for her.
Bad mother moment.
I was back home five minutes later after dropping Ms Thirteen at her lesson (Greenhills is not large, and we are very conveniently located). Miss Ten the Younger explained to me how she had looked after her sister, and cleaned up after her, and settled her on the sofa with a bucket and a towel.
“Well done,” I said to her. “You did very well.”
“I knew you would say that,” she said.
“Well, yes,” I said. “But *you* knew you did well, and you did do very well, and it’s important for me to acknowledge that.”
They both coped very well indeed. And of course, that makes me much more confident about leaving them at home, knowing that they can, and will, cope with minor disasters.
I have loved every stage of my daughters’ growth, from their baby sweetness to their toddler learning to the first days at school. And I’m loving this stage, as they become increasingly independent. That is my hope, that together with my partner, we will be able to work with and guide our children so that they will be able to grow into competent adults.
For a meditation on loving children, check out my friend Denny’s thoughts about her children: In praise of a wise woman. The ‘wise woman’ of Denny’s post is not her, but that soubriquet fits Denny too.