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As a single mother with a store one minute away by car, I began to occasionally leave my first children home for a strict limit of no more than fifteen minutes, when the one in charge, Noelle, was age seven. Noelle was a very mature child, and I always set her with her younger brother in front of a fascinating movie before I left. My toddler could stay too, if asleep in her crib. I always locked the doors, and taught my children NEVER to open the door to anyone, not even a policeman. The reason was that I had read of a burgler who sported a badge, to let himself into people's houses. I taught them that in case of fire, they were to go all together, immediately, to the next door neighbor's house, and have them call 911. I only left, while the neighbors were home.

There came a day when my children proved to me that they were truly trustworthy!

I came home from grabbing two gallons of milk for dinner and breakfast, and the children's Sunday School teacher was out front, in her car. "You certainly have your children trained well, Rosemary!" She exclaimed, as we walked in together. "I knocked on the door, and they looked up from their TV program, waved at me and smiled, and then turned back to the TV!"

I was certainly glad she had a good sense of humor. She knew I was keeping my children safe. After that, though, I always pulled the drapes of the picture window by the door, when I left!

I was very proud of my darling children! I had never dreamed of their teacher coming over. Though they knew and loved her, they obeyed me anyway.

As the years went by, I found that one child always needed to be in charge. I had them take turns. The one in charge was not to boss, but let me know when I got back, if anyone had broken my rules. Having one child in charge, meant that child was forced to tell me what happened in my absence, so the siblings could not blame her for telling me. I kept the time I was gone at fifteen minutes for years. This worked very well. Later, when they were older, I would be gone longer. I found out many years afterward, that when they were older, there were some organized minor disobediences. They had done some things in my absence, that I would not have let them do in the house, like small water gun fights. Ahem! Well, apart from these small organized rebellions, or whatever you call them, it always went well. No one went outside, no one opened the door. I always came back exactly within the number of minutes that I said I would.

I hired a babysitter if I was going to be any length of time. But this worked very well for short periods of time.

2004 Rosemary Gwaltney

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