The answer to “When is it OK to leave your child with disabilities home alone?” is, in my heart, “Never ever ever ever.” I’ve worried about Max falling, having a seizure or the house catching fire, among other gloomy scenarios.
But the reality is that Max is getting older and more independent, and he needs to gain confidence about taking care of himself. The other reality is my life as a mom and juggling various responsibilities for each of the kids. Last week, I had an important meeting to attend at Sabrina’s school, and Dave was away on business. I’ve left Sabrina with Ben after he’s asleep on occasion. Max has never been at home without me, Dave or a sitter. But there was no sitter to be had. And so, the three of them it was, with Ben asleep, and the house alarm on. I was about fifteen minutes away. In hindsight, I could have consulted with one of Max’s doctors—I likely would have felt more reassured.
Sabrina knows to call 911 if Max ever has a seizure or accident. Max himself knows to call 911 in case of emergency. There are neighbors I can text to swing by. Still, my mind was at home during that meeting. Max, already in his pj’s, was supposed to head upstairs and get in bed at 8:30 (something else he’d never done on his own). Would he be OK? What would happen if Max and Sabrina started fighting? What if.…?
“We’re fine!” Sabrina texted.
I texted back at 8:40: Was Max asleep?
I couldn’t get home faster enough to find out the details. But there was nothing to report. Max and Sabrina didn’t fight, not even a bit; he watched YouTube videos of fire trucks (his brain-numbing media of choice), she did homework. At exactly 8:30 p.m., Max turned off the TV, walked upstairs, closed the door to his room and went to sleep, like a boss.
And that was that.
The next morning, I gave Max props.
“You’re big now, and you can stay at home with Sabrina, without me—that’s great!” I said.
“Next week?” he asked, hopefully—because like any teen, he’d like for his mom to leave him alone.
It wasn’t exactly leaving him home alone, but it was a major baby step. Correction: teen step. It’s all step by step.
One more milestone, aced, for Max and me.
Image: Hughes Entertainment
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