It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Oh, the Carnage

We’ve been away for a few days, the husband and me. We left the dog at home in the care of my younger two kids (19 and 15). Yes, I do leave my teenagers alone in the house.

It is still standing, there is no line of irate neighbours awaiting our return, nor is there any evidence of riotous partying. You thought when I said “carnage”, I was going to tell tales of riotous bad behaviour on the part of my adolescent offspring, didn’t you? Nope.

Remember all my wittering on about “we’re not raising children, we’re raising adults“? And my further witterings about “risk, risk-taking, teaching them to manage risk“? I live by all that stuff with my own kids.

Any signs of riotousness?

Well, there were three clean wine glasses in the drying rack. There was, however, only one empty wine bottle in the recycle bin. (Yes, I looked. I was curious. Moreover, I am willing to take risks and give my children ever-growing freedoms, but I’m not stupid.)

Adam is of age (19 is of age in this province). Even if Emma joined him and a friend in a single bottle of wine, that’s not adequate to get anyone drunk. But I doubt she did. She doesn’t care for red wine. So two of-age young adults shared one bottle of wine. In two and a half days.

Would anyone even blink if two thirty-somethings did that? It looks like unexceptional adult behaviour from where I stand.

They did the dishes before I returned. And tidied the living room, put out the trash, wiped down the dining room table, and, I’m guessing by the contents of the fridge, prepared healthy meals, and further judging by the lack of crumbs, swept the kitchen floor. The did not wipe down the stove top or the counters. (Sticky, much?) Adam also did a load of his own laundry.

So, yes. Teens alone in a house for three days. And it was fine. Well, the kids did just fine, anyway.

The dog, however, she did… um… a little less well. The husband and I, you see, we are her pack. He does the morning walk, I do the evening. I feed her, he gives her his breakfast toast crusts. She sleeps on the floor at the foot of our bed. Now, husband travels routinely, so, though the dog spends a part of each day gazing longingly out the window and sniffing at his shoes, she’s used to his vanishment and reappearances. The kids and the dog get on just fine, they play with her, they routinely take her on her short before-bed “pee walk”, but it’s we adults who anchor her doggy world.

So when the both of us leave? When the routines are upset by a teen who, finding himself hauled out of bed at the ungodly hour of SEVEN A.M., and wanting to return to it as quickly as possible, makes the customarily hour-long walk a mere 15-minute farcical shadow of its stress-relieving self? When a night passes, and we’re NOT THERE? (Even though Emma did sleep in our bed so as to keep Indie company.) When, moreover, she* managed to ingest some Christmas candy and had the inevitable barfing/farting/squits? And we were still NOT THERE???

(*Indie the dog, not Emma the 15-year-old human.)

It was just too much for a dog to stand. And how does our beloved canine deal with stress? Well, optimally, walking, but I doubt the kids (particularly Mr. Morning Slug who Didn’t Really Try, ahem) could have kept up to her need. Even though the compassionate Emma, seeing her anxiety, gave her an extra hour-long midday walk on Saturday. NOT ENOUGH!

Failing the healthful stress-release of hours and hours and hours of running?

She chews stuff.

Now, she wasn’t left alone much. There was usually someone (generally Emma) in the house. But Emma had a couple of obligations…

And the sock-monkey suffered.


Remember my Christmas sock-monkey, made for me by my beloved eldest?

Well, now she looks like this:


Severed limbs,

oozing stuffing,

eyeless faces…

It’s a sad and sorry sight.

One which will shortly be remedied. Haley learned to sew from me, after all.

And this morning? The dog got a two-hour run.

December 29, 2008 - Posted by | health and safety, my kids, parenting, the dog | , , , , ,


  1. Oh, poor sock monkey! At least they can be repaired. And kudos for raising such responsible kids 🙂

    Sock monkey currently sits in bits in a basket, awaiting surgery. Thanks re: the kids. I like them!

    Comment by Dani | December 29, 2008 | Reply

  2. I’ll bet Indie was just thrilled to see her “pack” return – and with that two-hour run, too!

    I’m my dog’s “alpha,” and this sounds unfortunately familiar, except that Gypsy doesn’t chew – unless it’s a doorway or carpeting.

    Indie chews all manner of things. The weirdest is probably the top step. She lies on the landing at the top of the stairs, and gnaws at the hardwood edge of the first step/edge of landing. We’re discouraging this, obviously…

    Comment by Florinda | December 29, 2008 | Reply

  3. Is it bad that I laughed riotously at the second half of this post? Your poor sock monkeys! (And I love the poses. *cracks up again*)

    BTW, I like the way you conducted your post-vacation audit. Very subtle. Unfortunately, I have a feeling I’m much too nosy to be that subtle when the time comes.

    Is it bad? Heck, no! It’s exactly what I was hoping for!

    Don’t assume I’m not nosy! I am subtle in my check-ups for a reason: If they don’t know they’re under surveillance, they’re not so careful about hiding the evidence. Bwah-ha.

    Comment by Kat | December 29, 2008 | Reply

  4. Wow, only the sock monkey suffered, your dog is well behaved too.

    Oh, I wish that were true. No, the sock monkey is just more photogenic than acres of shredded tissue, a gnawed shoe, the edge of the landing, a cardboard box…

    Comment by mamacita tina | December 30, 2008 | Reply

  5. I leave my 18 year old (little brother, but I am/was his legal guardian) home alone all the time, with the added responsibility of caring for the horses, dogs, cats and chickens. I wish I could take credit for what a responsible person he is, but I didn’t get him until he was 15.

    I’m pretty impressed at how well your sock monkey survived. My dogs would have left only a few shreds of yarn and tufts of stuffing.

    Oh, I think you can take some of the credit. Funny how giving responsibility breeds responsibility…

    Yes, I’m rather pleased at how much monkey is left. I can only assume Emma rescued it before Indie finished it off!

    Comment by Trish C | December 30, 2008 | Reply

  6. My father started leaving me at home alone when I was 14. People thought he was crazy. I NEVER got in any kind of trouble…expectations are just that expectations…teach your children what they need to know and let them be good at it….

    Comment by Jerri Ann | January 1, 2009 | Reply

  7. […] The Science and Politics of Fear, which I received for my birthday. Given how I feel about risk and risk-taking, I expect to thoroughly enjoy this […]

    Pingback by Knee-deep in Guts « It’s Not All Mary Poppins | February 17, 2009 | Reply

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