The family is back.

My niece and nephews are back from central Mexico and I am so glad. I know I have made some side bars about how hard and crazy it is - and while all that is true- I love it. These kids are great and so sweet. I have been around other kids that fight and bicker and these kids do not and it is really great.

There is something that I have been wrestling with lately. Now, I know that I am bit different in my dealings with my kids then many other mothers in Mexico but I think there are some things that are a little more universal. But maybe I am just a bit old fashioned. I am not sure.

Here is the story. I have these 2 neighbor boys that are at my house bright and early most mornings. I have the house that most kids on the street hang out at and I am totally fine with that. Over the past 8 months or so I have gotten much better about telling people to go home when I am at the end of my rope of sanity. The kids have all been very nice about it.

But... here is the problem, the neighbor boys went to their house and then had to come back to my house to get the keys to get in. The fact that they were by themselves sort of shocked me. I mean, 1 is 8 and the other 6.

Now let me just say for 1 that I know that you have to work with the situation you are given. Mom works at 3- Aunt is not home until 7 - that is not terrible and I know people who have had to work situations like that. But it just seems too young to be by yourself. And if it was only for those few hours a day it would be one thing- but then for the past few weeks when they are here in the morning there is no one home for hours.

Then a few nights ago- we were about to have dinner and so I sent everyone home - well- it was almost 7:30 and no one was home- they had been at my house all day so I know that they had not eaten anything more then the snacks we had done at my house.

I asked them what they were going to have for dinner and he said nothing. Now- I am sure that is not entirely true but I had them stay at my house for dinner anyway. Afterwards they went home. They were in the streets playing late into the evening- like 11. And while that is not that strange on these streets- the fact that no one was home made me really uncomfortable.

Now- it is none of my business how someone else raises their kids but I feel a sense of responsibility for these boys. I mean- even if the mom had simply said to me- "Hey- there are going to be some hours I am not home- the boys are good by themselves but could you just keep and ear out and know that they are by themselves in case there is a problem." For 1 I would totally say yes- but... I do not know.

I really like this family and I like the boys but I feel like them at home by themselves for several hours a day is a little crazy. I talked to Ruben about it and he has similar concerns. For him he hates that he has seen the boys actually locked into the house. Most of our locks here are ones that you need a key to open the door even from the inside. So these boys are literally locked in their house.

Am I crazy or is that a little nuts? And I am not sure if I should say anything or not. I think I am just going to mention to the mom, "Hey I know the boys are at home by themselves a lot. If you need a hand with someone watching them, let me know." I mean she lives 2 houses down.

It did get Ruben and I talking about what age we think is okay to leave the kids at home. An age I am very excited about because there are many times that Ruben and I would love to hang out a little just the 2 of us. I mean, I will leave the kids at the house while I run to the supermarket but I am usually gone about 30 minutes.

Ruben and I decided that Akilean at 11 and Lena at 12 would be appropriate. Ruben and I could go out to dinner and they would be fine by themselves. This is new territory for me. I could see them being at home for a few hours during the day when Akilean is 9 and Lena is 10. But I do not know.

What is the norm? Is there a norm? Am I being a little crazy American lady on this issue? There are a lot of things here in Mexico where Ruben or my Latino friends will affectionately remind me that I have crazy white lady rules. jajaja.

Anyway. School starts soon so maybe the situation will change.


Leah Flinn said...

If you aren't comfortable with something, don't worry about the 'norm'. I would be careful offering to watch the children, as you might be stuck watching and feeding them more than you would like. Yet it does seem unsafe to lock them inside the house. Go with whatever you feel is best and ignore the naysayers. :-)

Calypso said...

My first thought was to defend a Mexican setting as it is so much safer here for children - but I don't know many Mexican parents that would leave their kids at home alone at that age - seems irresponsible.

That said I am sure we wouldn't get involved other than perhaps to feed them. That could develop into a problem as well - I have seen mother's depend on others to feed their kids once they get the scent of that....

It is a quandary indeed.

Rosas Clan in Tulum said...

I do agree that it is so nice to live in Mexico- at least my part of Mexico because it is so much safer for kids here. My kids can run up and down the streets and play with friends.

People here are so sweet to kids and enjoy them being around. I mean- you still have to be smart-

We have had to nip in the butt the feeding the neighborhood. The other kids come to my kids and tell them to ask for food or money for candies- and we live as local as anyone born around the corner and every bit makes a difference.

I just want the kids to be safe. I think I will wait until school starts and see what the deal is. I know summer is hard on all parents time wise.

Anonymous said...

i think you're right to be concerneed, especially about the kids being locked in their home. what if, God forbid, the place should catch on fire? how would the kids be able to escape? that is very scary.

in my opinion, 6 and 8 is too young to be left at home alone. perhaps you and ruben could voice your concerns, then again you never know how they might take it. i think your idea of waiting till school is back in session is a good one. hopefully these parents will at some point see the danger they are putting their kids in and will do a better job of finding family and neighbors who can give a hand when necessary instead of leaving them unattended for so many hours, especially, locked in. just follow your heart and do what you think is right.

yesterday, cynthia and mike of the blog by the same name, came over for lunch. she wrote a post about their visit and included some pictures. just thought you might like to read it so you can put a face to this commenter.

take care,
teresa in lake stevens

Sunshine said...

I've seen the exact same thing, we used to have a boy come over and stay al day from 9am to 9-10pm. He was great company for my little boy...he actually taught my son ALOT of spanish....but it got to be to much when i found him jumping on my bed with black STINKY and I mean STINKY socks on. Our bedroom is off to everyone!
But no one ever came looking for him. This summer he's not been around...someone said he's with his grandmother for the summer. So i'm looking for him to return anyday!
When we lived in Cd. Valles, my husbands brother and his wife would leave their little boy who was 4 at the time...alone. There were times when he poo'd in his clothes and i would have to give him a bath and hunt down clothes.
My husband fianlly did say something...but it was his brother.
My only thing with saying something to the parents would be the fear of them locking the kids in the house again. You could put on a pot of beans and feed them all beans. It's cheap and every one eats. It's soo hard to know what to do. But school starts soon and maybe it will get better for you. You have a big heart mami!

Linda said...

My daughter was ~11 (6th grade) when I went back to work. She came home after school and was alone for less than 2 hours when I would get home.

She started babysitting a neightbor's child at age 12, after taking a babysitting course & CPR at our local Red Cross.

Isla Chica

Mama of 4 said...

My oldest will be 13 and second oldest is 11 and we started leaving them home alone to babysit the little ones a couple months ago. It has worked great for us since it had been years since we actually went on a date and now we go out almost every weekend. If we plan on staying out too late we get a sitter but the girls can handle it if its just dinner and a movie. It really depends on how mature you think your kids are and how you think they would handle an emergency situation.

Amanda said...

This is so sad but I think it does happen a lot around here also. Those are hard choices you have to make due to the possibility of slippery slopes.
As far as leaving kids a lone and what age, right now I cant imagine ever doing it. ;) But Im sure once my kids are older Ill think differently. Maturity Im sure will be the big factor.

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