Wednesday, May 25, 2005

I love my parents but...

Sometimes they didn't always make the wisest decisions. Apologies in advance Mom, Dad, Stepmom & Stepdad - I'm going to tell about 5th grade.

Scrivener was talking about an event in his life which brought up this memory for me.

When I was in 5th grade my dad and stepmom lived in a house on the corner of Bergin and Carlton in Brooklyn. Beautiful house. The house that is my standard for beautiful houses. The wood panelling alone...

I had the turret room on top. (Pictures will appear later)

The problem was that the neighborhood wasn't all that great. I didn't really notice at the time, but the local bodega was probably a drug hang-out. There was a very busy police station 2 blocks down.

One Wednesday, I get home from school and let myself in. (Yes, I was a latch-key kid). My parents had decided that I was old enough to stay alone without a babysitter. This is 5th grade, so I'm what? 10? 11? Like I said. Not the best of decisions.

'Round about 4 o'clock, the doorbell rings. I turn off my Blondie Auto-American album, put down my book and galumph down-stairs to see who it is.

It's a woman I've never seen before, she's in a house-coat and she says "I'm the new cleaning woman. Your dad hired me to come today to clean for the party?"

Which actually sounded reasonable to me. We were between cleaning women...I hadn't known about the party but I assumed it must be for Saturday night, when I wouldn't be there. And this being my first day back in the house for the week, I thought they'd neglected to tell me.

So I showed her where the cleaning supplies were and the clean linens when she asked for them and went back to reading my book and listening to music.

And then she came to tell me she was leaving. She had a pillowcase stuffed with jewelry and things and she ripped the phone out of the wall and scared the crap outta me and left...

Whereupon I called my dad at his office and found out, actually was reminded, that he was in London all week and wouldn't be back until the following Monday.

At which point I felt completely stupid. And guilty. I should have remembered. I should never have let her in. I was a horrible, horrible person. And the worst part was that nothing she stole was mine. It all belonged to my dad, my stepmom, my sister. I was evil.

Then my stepmom came home and called the police (the phone was ripped out of the wall, but not disconnected) and we all spent the next few nights sleeping over at a friend's house. And my stepmom and sister chided me for letting in a stranger but agreed that her story was plausible and that they might have let her in, too.

After that, I had a babysitter again for a while. Very humiliating for me then. Now, I wish that I hadn't had that stretch of no sitter. And so do my parents.

10 comments:

Susie Sunshine said...

Holy Crap! No one could be mad at you, you're lucky to be alive!

And it serves them all right that their stuff was taken and not yours, you were the one left there ALONE.

I'm off to add more locks to my doors even though this is a low-crime neighborhood (excluding the occasional bank-robbery).

Phantom Scribbler said...

We've been hit up by canvassers from MassPIRG twice in the past two days, and each time the knock comes to the door, my kid jumps up and yells, "I'll get it!"

I don't think I'll be leaving him alone anytime in the next, say, 20 years....

Julie said...

Oh, how scary. Thanks for the reality check; I've been leaving my 9yo home alone...

Scrivener said...

Wow, what a scary story. I was routinely left home alone when I was a kid, including once when my mother left on Friday for a date and didn't come back until Sunday and I was there for the weekend with my younger brother--I know that I was younger then 10. And our house was robbed plenty while no one was home. But I never had an experience like this.

You're lucky that you were only robbed, of course.

liz said...

Geez Louise, Scrivener! How did you manage to grow up so nice and sane and lovely?

liz said...

Julie, leaving your 9yo alone while you run to the store is probably okay....ask your local DFS what their recommendations are for that stuff.

Scrivener said...

I think it was all the fantasy and scifi novels--they taught me a system of ethics and morality. That and a lot of luck. And often I was too dumb to know how much trouble I was in.

Andrea said...

Wow. That would have been so scary for you.

I was left home alone all the time at 10 years old, and started babysitting at 12. I think that was the standard where I grew up--but then, we didn't have a crime problem.

I'd like to do the same with Frances. I guess I'll have to see what the world is like in 9 years.

Yankee T said...

WOW!Poor dear, of course you were not to blame for what happened. You were only a wee one...

SuzanH said...

How frightening. I'm glad nothing worse happened to you.

I was never left alone--I think I was 14 the first time. Seriously. We lived with my grandparents and often assorted relatives (the usual cultural thing) and there was ALWAYS someone there. I found it restrictive and vowed I'd never treat any kid I had that way.

Now I see G, who is 8, and can't fathom letting her stay alone until she's in her mid teens. Too scary. I'll probably be picking her up from school until then, too. Or maybe through college.