I love abandoning my children

By Mir
November 8, 2013

Last night, Otto and I had a date night. AS PEOPLE DO. “People” being “people other than us,” usually, because we are not always so super-fantastic about that whole “nurture your couple relationship” thing. It’s not that we don’t love each other (we do!) or enjoy each other’s company (he’s my favorite!), it is just that we’re old and tired and outnumbered by the other three sentient creatures in our household.

We don’t go on a lot of dates, is my point. But we’re working on it, because I hear this rumor that someday my children might grow up and move out of the house. I’m skeptical, but it’s what I hear, so who knows. Should they ever leave, the idea is that Otto and I need to make sure we still like each other.

So, last night: Date night! On a THURSDAY! Like the wild and crazy folks we are. A date on a school night; it must be that we really, really, REALLY needed this time to reconnect and get romantic. Or that we had the chance to see Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood perform. Either way.

[Unpaid, unsolicited plug: If you are now or ever have been a fan of Whose Line Is It Anyway? or enjoy any sort of improvisational comedy, you should go see this show. It was hilarious. We are longtime Whose Line fans and so bought tickets pretty much as soon as the tour was announced, but even so, I was blown away by how good it was and how different it is to be sitting there in the audience instead of watching it on TV. I mean, sure, yes, any night out with my sweetie would be great, but this was spectacular entertainment. Go. It’s funny.]

Here’s the thing about having teenagers: It turns out, you’re allowed to leave them home without adults! CRAZY! I mean, I can’t speak for Otto, but for a looooooong time it felt like we were stuck in that purgatory between “need a babysitter” and “can totally be trusted at home alone for whatever necessary period of time.” We’ve been leaving one or the other or both of them home alone for short stints for years, of course, but nighttime was somehow more complicated, for a while, with the occasional late-night phone call from Monkey (“When are you coming home? I HEARD SOMETHING WEIRD.”) or Chickadee’s special brand of being in charge (which generally included turning on, and leaving on, every single light in the house).

Now, though, we’ve reached the golden age of parenting (HAHAHAHAHAHAAA; every current parent of a teenager just burst into hysterical laughter, reading that) where we can just say, “Hey, we’re going out tonight, we’ll see you later” and then we GO and no one dies or burns the house down. It’s awesome.

The only problem is that—while my children are lovely and charming and good-hearted—organization isn’t so much my kids’ strong suit. And both of them have an amazing ability to overlook… uhhh… almost everything. It’s true that Otto and I don’t sneak off without them very often, and it’s true that I don’t worry about them when they’re home without us (in terms of safety or whatever), but it’s ALSO true that the last couple of times we attempted this, we came home to food left out on the counters, one child who’d “forgotten” to go to bed, dishes everywhere, etc. As we’re currently working on organizational skills with both kids and doing a lot of visual cueing, I decided to leave them an instruction list in a highly visible location.

Did I feel a little helicopter-y and anal, leaving them a numbered list of instructions? Yes. Yes, I did. But when we left, Chickadee was’t home yet, and Monkey was gaming online with his friends and nodded and waved when I asked if he was listening to me, and didn’t even flinch when I bent my head down to his webcam and said, “Hey guys! Have fun!” to his buddies on Skype. Both children had been told where the frozen pizza (fancy!) was and what time we’d be home and what was supposed to happen in-between, but I just figured a list would be HELPFUL.

When we got home, it had been fully annotated for us.

(Note my added-in-red-pen item 5.5, as that whole organizational issue that I’m constantly bitching about brings to mind various metaphors about apples and trees. Ahem.)

Here’s the great news, though: The list was amusing enough with all of the additions, but the kitchen was spotless. Sure, probably Monkey did all of the cooking and cleaning while his sister worked on her commentary, but whatever works.

This morning I went in to Chickadee’s room to wake her up at o’dark thirty and she opened one sleepy eye and said, “You’re back! Did you meet Antonio?”

In summary:
1) Date night: good.
2) Comedians: funny.
3) My kids: also funny.
4) Empty nest? I’m in no rush.


  1. navhelowife

    What a wonderful story! I love the annotated list !

  2. Heather

    <3 Antonio might just have to be my mascot for the day!

  3. RuthWells

    I still leave lists for my 17-year-old. But he’s not as funny as Chickie.

  4. Javamom

    At least they read the list! Some people require lists like this to duckt-taped to their foreheads which still doesn’t guarantee action on the action items.


  5. heidi

    I must second the Colin and Brad suggestion. Saw them a few weeks ago with the husband. So fun!

  6. Pip

    Your kids are brilliant :-)

  7. js

    Please. I still leave my self lists like this. Also, ANTONIO!!!

  8. Rebecca

    I have ADD myself, and for me, clear written directions really do help. As does a good sense of humor. :)

  9. My Kids Mom

    In the middle of purgatory where they aren’t ready to be alone but are too old for a babysitter.

  10. Jeanie

    What clever comments from Chickie! I’m also impressed with the drawing of Antonio. It’s great!

  11. Chris

    That note is a keeper. Glad you had a fun night out and that the note worked (do you think I would get in trouble with notes like that for my husband? He is well intentioned but I can find folks not showered etc when I get home late. “I thought they knew to get in the shower!”)

  12. Dawn

    Thanks for the reminder about Colin & Brad’s show – don’t tell my hubby that’s what he’s getting for Christmas :)

    That list is a great idea. We are almost (oh please oh please) to the point where we can leave the kidlets home alone in the evening.

  13. Cheryl

    First time we left our two kids home alone while we went out to a show was fun! We returned home to two kids sitting silently on the couch, with a broken coffee table in front of them. Turned out our daughter had sat on the corner of the table (a sturdy oak table, I might add) for just a moment, and the leg totally popped out from under her. Both of them felt awful!! Turned out that a screw holding the leg to the table was a tad loose, and this fact was known to my hubby. Once he quit laughing and hugging the kids, he fixed the table leg, and we are still using that table to this day – this all happened about 20 years ago!! And – the grown-up kids still keep giggling about it!!

  14. Jen

    That is something I can totally see my sons doing and you’ve inspired me to let them live long enough to see that day. They thank you. ;)

  15. Brenda

    Jealous you got to see that show! I’ve been a Whose Line fan for forever. And I just love when you share the snarkiness and wit of your children. :)

  16. Aimee

    Heh. Your kids are funny.

    Why do Colin-and-Brad’s tour organizers hate Washington? Probably for the same reason Joshilyn’s book-tour organizers hate Washington. I don’t know why that would be, but it’s starting to feel very personal for me. Come to Washington! It rains a lot!

  17. Carrie

    You give me hope that one day we’ll be able to leave our ADHD inattentive daughter without coming home to find she’s forgotten the front door open on something :) I imagine we probably have another 10 years before we are that far along in our ability to follow lists, but someday…

  18. Jim

    It would appear you don’t mind abandoning your blog readers either. lol

  19. Angela

    That was so cute! I hope my son turns out to be funny. He’s only 4 months old, so I can’t really tell yet. Ha! He does do funny stuff though, like when he’s nursing he’ll cut his eyes sideways at me and pull a big silly grin, then go back to eating. It’s too adorable.

  20. Jen B

    Ohmigosh! I’m so glad you mentioned the Colin & Brad show! Brian and I LOVE WLIIA, and they’ll be in Dearborn on Valentine’s Day! What better way to spend time with your love, than LAUGHING???!!! Thank you! ;)

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