[laughs nervously while pondering the thought of an exotic destination, followed by a long sigh]
Where was I? Right. My kids are 7 (going on 8 next month) and 8 (going on 9 in a few months). Besides wondering where time has flown over the past couple of years, it’s clear that Marshall and Adelaide are at the age of adventurous exploration. Again, not being left alone while Meghan and I travel on a plane somewhere to be fancy and free. Right?
No, I’m talking about letting them walk around the neighborhood. I’m talking about increasing their chore duties. Plus, it might be nice for the parents to go for our own walks, while the kids stay at home and read, play games, or watch TV. This is a nerve-wracking step for me because I am a worrier by nature, but I recognize the importance of seeing our kids bask in their own independence.
Home Alone Presents Independence for Kids in a Good Way (Minus the Whole Being Left Home Alone Thing)
Home Alone – spoiler alert – is about Kevin McCallister being left home alone after his family rushes to the airport and doesn’t realize he’s with them. Not only does this film still hold up and is absolutely entertaining to watch, Catherine O’Hara’s performance as Kevin’s mother is incredible as her expressions, shouts, and fierce determination demand the audience’s attention.
Although Kevin is home alone, he soon realizes life must carry on without his family. This means going to the grocery store, doing laundry, and even using a bit of aftershave to burn the you-know-what out of his skin. Okay, I’m not ready to have my kid shave or use aftershave, but our kids are getting old enough to have an increased load of responsibilities.
We always want our kids to be kids, but when is the right time to have them help more around the house or do more “adult” things? One of the common chores our kids have been doing for a while has been to empty the dishwasher. It’s a relatively easy task they can tag team, but they also have to contend with the utensil and food storage drawers. You know the ones, right? These are the drawers that get caught when opening or something pops up making it impossible to close.
Welcome to adulthood, kiddos. They’ve handled this daily task very well, and both kids have offered to help with other things, too. They’ve dusted shelves, swept floors, and wiped tables from time to time. We’re not going full-on Cinderella with our kids, but we want them to know they’re needed, too. We’ve always told them we’re there for them, for anything they might need, but I think they’re at a point where they want to feel needed. It makes sense why they might offer to help around the house so much.
Kevin in Home Alone does so many different things on his own. He faces his fears in so many instances. He goes down to the basement. He talks to his neighbor who he thought was a shovel-wielding murderer. He took down the “Wet Bandits” during the course of a robbery, where his fingers were about to be bitten off. Again, these aren’t situations any parent wants their kids to go through. The point is that Home Alone presents a young boy with many different obstacles, and he has to find a way to hurdle over each one.
Perhaps a parent’s greatest fear is having their child be left home alone. Maybe they’re afraid they’ll encounter a “bad guy” and there won’t be a tarantula in plain sight to get away just in time. Or, perhaps, like me, you find it relatable to see Kevin taking it upon himself to buy groceries and not give away vital information to a stranger. Maybe it’s delightful to see him order a pizza over the phone. There are all of these little things that add up to Kevin growing into a “big kid.”
Our kids are growing so fast and seeing them want to be involved is nice. In the same breath, it’s okay for them to stretch their legs and take a walk together without Mom and Dad. They need to be able to feel that sense of independence, and, hopefully, they’ll appreciate the responsibility that comes along with it. They’ll also have to make sure they look out for cars going in and out of driveways!
Although it’s not the holiday season, Home Alone lets me give a friendly reminder to myself (and other parents) that our kids are growing up whether we want it to happen or not. They will need to branch out more and more the older they get. This might mean finding more chores for them to do or letting them play who-knows-where in the neighborhood. But it most certainly means not leaving them home alone while we go off on a plane to somewhere like Venice for an extended vacation.
Until next time, friends, happy parenting and happy geeking.