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Oct 31 2011

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What happens when teenagers are left home alone for 7 weeks?

The prodigal step-son has returned home.

If you haven’t caught up, we recently went away to Cape York for 7 weeks. Before we went, there was quite a bit of discussion. Doc wanted his 17 year old son who lives with us to go and stay somewhere else while we were away, but of course the 17 year old could sense his chance. A vacant house – for 7 weeks.

I’ve been leaving my children home alone for years while I went away (yes, I know, I’m a bad mother), so I was arguing on the side of the 17 year old.

He’s 17, old enough to be responsible, he’s working and earning his own living, he needs to be given a chance, etc, etc. Doc wasn’t convinced, but in the end he gave in – after all, somebody had to look after the cat.

So off we went. Of course, Doc rang home regularly. Occasionally I got on the phone to check on the state of the cat. Now before you start thinking I care more about the cat than my own children – my kids don’t live with us, and yes I did call them regularly.

Finally, after seven weeks, on a Friday afternoon we were heading for home. We were about 2 hours away when I turned to Doc

“M does know where coming home today, doesn’t he?”

“No, I told him Sunday”

I went into shock and panic mode. “You did what?”  I spluttered “The first rule of leaving your kids home alone is giving them plenty of notice of when you’ll be back. The place is going to be trashed!”

And, of course, it was. I won’t go into details but think of all those movies you’ve seen where teenagers are left home alone and what they get up to. And then think what it would have been like if they hadn’t had a chance to clean up before their parents got home.

It was worse.

Fortunately we don’t own a Porsche and I’d lent my Saab to my daughter.

To make matters worse Doc dumped all the rubbish onto his son’s bed for him to clean up when he got home. Which he didn’t – he went straight to his older brother’s place and has stayed there since. Leaving Doc to clean up the bedroom as well!

But now his brother and his girlfriend have moved into a smaller place. Not just to get rid of Joel [as he’ll henceforth be known after the character in Risky Business he was apparently trying to emulate. They’ve been planning this for a while, so the prodigal has returned home.

I know there’s been a lot of laying down the law from Doc, and I’m sure Joel has been suitably repentant. I figure he’s not my child so I don’t have to get involved or take responsibility for setting the rules.

Hopefully they’ve both learned a lesson. But just in case, I’m going to make sure I let Joel know well in advance when we’ll be home next time!

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