I left my nearly 10 year old daughter at home, on her own, for the first time last week.
I knew she was tired and that a 10 minute walk to collect her sister from a local playdate would be met with moaning and groaning, so I gave her the option of staying at home whilst I popped out. I was pretty sure she’d be fine – it was the middle of the afternoon, she knows how to use the phone and she’s a sensible girl. What I wasn’t sure about was her reaction. However, she met my suggestion with positive excitement and glee – after all, it meant she could watch The Commonwealth Games uninterrupted by me or her sister for a whole 10 minutes!
But hang on a minute… where was my clingy little girl who wouldn’t go into another room alone for the first 5 years of living with us? Where was the nervous child that constantly clutched my hand whenever we went out? Where was the girl who had so much anxiety about being on her own that she’d rather wet herself than go to the toilet?
Well, she’s still there, but there’s another little girl that’s emerging. A stronger, more confident, wiser, more resilient person who is starting to know her own mind, to understand her own needs and wants, to be more dependent on herself and less reliant on others. A girl who trusts that the people who love her will come back to her. A girl who trusts herself and who’s starting to trust that life is good.
I know plenty of children who are left alone from a much earlier age and for longer than 10 minutes, and that it’s all part of growing up and becoming independent. It seems such a small thing, but honestly, for years I couldn’t ever imagine leaving her in the house alone (at any age!). It happened suddenly and unexpectedly. A part of me doesn’t really like it – my little girl growing up and not needing me so much any more – but a much, much bigger part of me is incredibly happy and incredibly proud of her!
I realise of course that this may be a one-off and it might not happen again for another 10 years (or at least not until the next Commonwealth Games), so I’m not planning any spa days anytime soon!