We had a dilemma this evening. Matt had a premier team soccer practice in a community about 45 minutes from where we live and he does not drive, so John needs to take him. The store is open until 8:00 on Thursday evenings so I need to be there. Sarah has been fighting an asthma episode for more than a week. She did not want to leave the house but we never leave her alone at night. We do not have anyone trained to come watch her (that's a whole different post and one I won't get into tonight). So what to do? What to do? My husband and I discuss the situation. We discuss it some more. I mentally list off all the possibilities of things that could go wrong. Sarah really does not want to leave. She pleads to stay home. So we let her.
I called her at 6:30 to make sure she was alright. "Mom, I'm fine," she says. I remind her I have to run to the post office as soon as the store closes and then I will come straight home. Then the store gets really busy, and I forget about worrying that she is home alone. The last customer leaves at 8:05. I quickly gather my coat and bag and head out the door. Just as I am about to get into the car, my cell phone goes off. I glance at the readout and see it is Sarah. My heart jumps a beat.
"Mom, Don't forget to go to McDonald's and get me chocolate chip cookies." I sigh deeply, an expression of my relief. "OK sweetie, I won't forget." I smile to myself as I realize that she knew exactly what time to call me. She likely even understands that I have a tendency to forget things lately. I think about how far her speech has come lately. How pleased she is with herself when she stays home alone.
But then as I drive off, I start to question. What would happen if that call was the neighbor letting me know the house was on fire? Or someone broke in through the side door. Or a deer ran through the sliding glass door. Would I be held accountable? Would I be judged on her being left alone. Is leaving a young adult with diminished judgement alone wrong? It's a catch twenty two, I've decided.
When I walked in the door, Sarah was waiting for me. She already had her glass of apple juice poured. She had a napkin waiting, and her chair turned around to watch television while she enjoyed her snack. She is oblivious to my insecurities about her staying home alone when it is dark outside.
When I questioned her on why she was having apple juice and not milk, she confidently reminded me that she has had an asthma episode and milk is not good for the airway. I'll leave out some of the not so pleasant details, and just say she has been self managing her episode better than ever.
And then she went about enjoying her chocolate chip cookies. So I went about putting in a load of laundry, folding the towels that were in the dryer and making me some dinner. The guys got home about an hour later. No worries. Life does go on. Until the next little dilemma, anyway.