My husband and I recently went on our first vacation without kids. I’m not going to lie, it was amazing. But I was so stressed out before we left because also for the first time we let my son stay home alone. We also left him in charge of our very high maintenance dog.
Even though Nolan will be eighteen this month I still think of him as my “baby”. That may sound cute, but the truth is, I was also treating him like a baby. I realized something was wrong when he asked me if he could go to the movies one day while he was already out with his friends. He wasn’t asking me for a ride, he owns his own car! He felt he needed permission to do something as harmless as go to the movies…
How controlling was I?
Making the decision to let Nolan stay home alone was an easy one after that. It was tough on me, but I knew it was the right thing to do. He’s going away to college in September—he needed to know he could take care of himself. He needed to know we trusted him to take care of himself!
It turned out to be an incredibly rewarding experience for everyone, especially since he didn’t burn the house down.
Since I had committed to letting him fully explore life on his own I did not make one meal for him to reheat before we left, nor did I stock the house with groceries. He shopped for himself and, instead of only getting prepared food, he decided to experiment with cooking. He learned that he likes it and is good at it, and now that I’m home he’s still cooking for himself! He prefers to eat vegan, something I don’t always make.
Nolan also, for the first time, learned what it takes to be responsible for another life. He was shocked at how much work it is to walk, feed and entertain our dog. But he was equally shocked at how rewarding it is to shower that life with love. Louie has always been a one-dog-one-master kind of pup, but now he follows Nolan around the house along with my husband, which makes Nolan proud.
He should feel proud. He made that happen.
I don’t even know all the ways in which Nolan grew as a person during this experience. When I asked him he said (with an eye roll), “I don’t know, Mom. You never really know the life lessons you learned, do you?”. Probably true. I do know what I learned though.