Would You Leave Two Teenagers Alone At Home For Four Days?

drunk 2

Toney flew to North Carolina earlier in the month, to spend a few days with her sister and cousin. It was one of those deals where it was planned far in advance, but when it came time to actually buy the plane ticket… she wanted to cancel and allocate the funds elsewhere. It’s the standard dance we do.

But I’d gone to visit my parents a few months before, and was amazed at how it had cleared my head, and improved my mood. Just occasionally stepping outside the swirling snow globe o’ boolshit that is our everyday life is good for the soul. So, I lobbied for her to go through with it.

And she was glad she did. She came back feeling energized and optimistic. In fact, we had a conversation about making a conscious effort to keep shaking things up, and not allowing ourselves to get mired in routine for months (years) at a time. We vowed to take day trips, and even some overnighters, when possible.

Then everything took a troubling turn…

We have this fantasy, you see, where we return to the South as soon as both our kids are away at college. We want to sell our house here, and move to Lawrenceville, Georgia – which is in the suburbs of Atlanta. How we arrived at that specific place, I cannot recall. But it’s been the plan for quite some time.

And Toney suggested we go there – just the two of us – and scout it out for a few days. It’s been a long time since we’ve been to the area.

“Sounds good, but what about the boys?” I asked.

“Oh, they’d be bored,” she said. “I want to just hang out in Lawrenceville, and maybe look at some townhomes and things. They’d hate that.”

“Yeah, but… what will we do with them?”

“They’re old enough to be left alone for a few days, don’t you think? They’re 18 and 16.”

And that’s when I almost drew a poop comma in the seat of my boxer briefs.

The reason I’m not down with the idea

When I was a teenager, I was a full-blown dumbass. It was a powerful cocktail of energy, hormones, dipshittery, and an insatiable thirst for mayhem.

My parents would occasionally go away for a few days, and there were shenanigans. In fact, on at least two occasions I came very close to being arrested. The only thing that saved me was the fact that my dad was the fire chief in our little town, and all the cops knew and liked him.

One time my folks were away, and I was out drinking with my friends Bill and Steve: drinking, while driving. It’s what we (and many of our peers) used to do… We weren’t returning from a place where we drank. Oh no. The entire evening consisted of nothing but driving around aimlessly, guzzling beer, and listening to Van Halen and Billy Squier.

It was really late, like 2 a.m., and a female cop pulled us over, in front of Keller Funeral Home.

“You took that corner pretty wide back there, didn’t you, Mr. Kay?” she said. Most of the cops knew me by name.

“I didn’t want to spill my beer,” I told her, which sounds smart-ass, but was just me being truthful.

“You might want to watch your mouth,” she continued. “How much have you guys had to drink tonight?”

“Not much. A couple.”

“A couple, huh? The whole floor of your car is covered in beer cans.”

“Um, a lot of those are from yesterday,” I lied.

We ended up taking drunk tests – all three of us – and were coaching one another: “C’mon, Steve! You can do it! Just concentrate. Take it slow…

“SHUT UP!” the officer kept yelling.

She finally told us she was going to let us go, but would follow us home. And, she warned, if she saw us out again that night, we were all going to jail.

We got back in the car, and Bill immediately popped the top on another beer. “Want one?” he asked.

Needless to say, my dad knew all about this episode, within minutes of his return. And it wasn’t a very good couple of days for your humble correspondent.

Another time Bill and I were drinking in my garage, and shooting at passing cars with BB guns. Bill apparently shot somebody’s side mirror, it ricocheted off, and hit the driver in the face.

And the guy was pissed. He came charging at us, acting like he was ready to fight. However, once he got a good look at Bill, he decided he’d better take a different course of action. He was still angry though, and stood there yelling at us for about five minutes.

Then he went to the police station, and filed some kind of complaint, or somesuch. Again, nothing happened officially, but my dad was made aware of it when he got back to town. And he was not pleased.

There have been incidents

Bill, Steve and I laugh about those days. But I would be brought down by a massive stroke if my kids pulled even half the stunts I did. It’s a wonder nobody was killed, or had an arm sheared off like all those guys in Def Leppard (the whole band is missing an arm, right?). We fully and gleefully embraced the stupid.

Our boys are fairly well-behaved, but there have been incidents… Not many, but enough to trigger a mega-frown at the thought of leaving them alone for four days. Of course, if there had been NO incidents by this point, I’d demand a paternity test. But that’s a subject for a different day.

I realize it’s a little unfair to hang my 1980 idiocy around the necks of my current-day kids. But, tough shit. They can file a lawsuit, if they’d like. And I know the older one is 18, which is old enough to join the military, vote for president, etc. And he’ll be going off to college in the fall. I understand all this intellectually, but my instincts are still screaming, “Nooooo!!!”

I mean, the two of them alone for four days? With all their friends hanging around, safe in the knowledge we’re hundreds of miles away?? I have visions of MTV Spring Break happening in our living room, and us returning to nothing but a chimney, a toilet, and a big black circle where the house used to stand.

So, I’m not on board with this idea. Not at all. I’ve been a teenage boy, and understand what that entails.

But what do you think? In the comments section, please share your thoughts. If you have kids, have you ever left them alone for a few days? At what age? Did anything unusual happen? Also, when you were a teenager… did your folks ever leave you alone for extended periods? Please tell us about it.

And, I thank you guys for the support!

I’ll see you next time.

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Comments

  1. Stephanie C says:

    First? (Are we still doing that?) 🙂

  2. Clueless says:

    Under no circumstances. Absolutely not.

    My parents returned from leaving me in charge (I was maybe 18) for the weekend to find I had washed and waxed the entire basement floor. What a wonderful daughter! They were truly blessed, right?

    Damn straight. Had to clean up all that spilled beer.

    Wouldn’t tempt fate, Jeff.

  3. My parents left us alone when we were teenagers, and we pulled tons of crap. We looked forward to their vacations every year. I was the youngest of three, and I’m pretty sure I was driving by the time they left us all unattended.

    My daughter was never left home alone like that, but she went to live in a dorm when she was 17, and that was a tough transition for me. It wasn’t her that I was worried about; it was everybody else.

    I think you should leave your boys home while you go to GA, because it’s not like they’ll be sitting in the garage shooting BB guns at passing cars or anything, right? It could be the best weekend of their lives.

  4. Hell to the no. My kids are great, but they found plenty of shenanigans with me at home. The world is different, stuff can happen for innocent reasons that you end up paying for forever.
    I would not do it!

  5. install a hidden camera and then when you come home review it

  6. Erica in Charlotte says:

    I left ONE teenager (age 15) at home alone for two days over a weekend. As far as I know, everything was fine. He was either well behaved, or covered his tracks perfectly. Either way suits me.

    In your case – two of them? Both driving age? Both with lots of friends? Hmmm…

    We have those niggling parental voices for a reason, even if we wish we could be cooler about it. I’d listen to your gut.

  7. Don’t like it…not one bit.

  8. Mrs. L. Bangs says:

    Had Toney knocked back a few before making this proposal??

    I vote NO.

  9. 18 and 16, fuck yeah.

    Buy them a couple new PS3 games and tell them you are going to the bar down the street. They’ll not notcie you’ve been gone for 4 days.

    And since there are two of them, you shouldun’t have to worry about them masterbating in places like your bedroom or the kitchen.

    Besides, the elder secret is going to be out on his own soon anyway. And the youger secret is at the perfect age that if he wanted to get introuble, he’d do whether or not you are in town. The worst that can happen is the burn your house down, but all their stuff is in it too so that should disuade them.

    • revashane says:

      I agree 100%.
      Daughter is 15 and the most outrageous thing she’s done is put her kayak in the community pool. Come on Jeff, they’re your kids, cut them some slack. My Mom always said ” I’ll give you enough rope to hang yourself if you are stupid enough to take it that far”

  10. Go with your instincts. Drag the boys with you. Bored is better than maimed, or imprisoned for drunken vehicular manslaughter.

  11. eeyoresmama says:

    I know the shit my brothers and I pulled when our parents were gone. No real trouble, they just wouldn’t have been happy if we had been caught. But we lived in a different era. You and Toney have obviously raised your boys well, but what about their friends? How many of them would you trust in your home if you and Toney weren’t there? So many of these kids today have no respect for others property, and with social media, it could get out of hand quicker than your boys could imagine. I wouldn’t do it.

  12. Melissa says:

    Although I’d love for you to trust your boys I have to join the masses and agree No. You don’t want even a few friends coming over and anyone to get hurt because then their parents will get all butt-hurt and you come home to a giant headache.
    Then again, you’ll never know their trust worthiness without giving them an inch…..

  13. I’m neutral on the boys staying home alone but I am 100% against you moving to Lawrenceville. It’s changed a lot on the past few years and I’m not sure you will like it as much now.

    • Jaymack says:

      Zach is correct. Lawerenceville is a HOOD now. I have lived in the Atlanta area most of my life of 47 years and a lot has changed in the last 20. I recommend the Sandy Springs, East Cobb, Marietta areas.

      Good Luck

    • Honestly, as someone who lives in Lawrenceville, I don’t think it’s that bad. There are shitty parts of town, but that goes for damn near everywhere in the Atlanta Metro. Your mileage may vary.

  14. One or two days maybe but four? I wouldn’t do it. Just like you I think back to the crap I did at that age when my parents were away… They are good kids but when the parents are away and they get together with their friends who knows what will happen. Maybe a family friend could stop by each day to make sure everything is ok?

    • I concur. A family friend/trusted neighbor check-in should work. Give those boys a little wiggle room and see how they do.

  15. To this day, my parents are unaware that while they were away on vacation, my 15 year old dumbass self dropped a cigarette in their lounge and burned a nice hole in the middle of the carpet. It cost me an extraordinary (at the time) amount of money to have it repaired, and though that carpet is long gone, they still don’t know about it. I think I’ll keep it that way.

  16. I’m your age Jeff and I’m also amazed that we’re alive after some of the stuff we did. My kids are younger, but your two being in high school, don’t you find as a whole that the kids today are more socially aware and less “dickey” than we were? I think they’ve bought into the whole “Don’t Drink and Drive” message, while we just giggled while watching the film “Mechanized Death.”

  17. madz1962 says:

    For some inexplicable reason, our house was where all our friends gathered even – and especially – when my parents were HOME. And no, they weren’t the type of parents who believed in being their kids “buddies”. No siree, they suffered no fools and wouldn’t put up with any bullshit. But, our friends literally enjoyed coming over and hanging out whether my mother was in the room or not (dad would wander off to watch TV). In fact, my mother was very funny and entertaining back in the day. (she’s bedridden now but still pretty funny). And my parents were the type who didn’t give a shit if the kids smoked or had a beer (this is when the drinking age was 18. My parents didn’t let any underage drinking go on ). They just didn’t get uptight over that shit. I’m one of 6 kids which may have helped with their “fukkit” attitude. But ours was THE house to meet and gather. I never had a curfew growing up either. I guess my parents knew everyone ELSE had a curfew so our asses would be home at a reasonable hour. Christ, maybe the old man and woman were geniuses! So even on the very off chance we were left alone, there wasn’t a snowball’s chance in HELL anyone would desecrate the sacred holy ground of my parent’s home.

    I don’t have kids of my own so I couldn’t say if it was a good idea or not. I’m just worried if a kid got hurt or someone posted some asshattery and something came back to bite you on the ass.

  18. Bill in WV says:

    Thank CHRIST the cell phone had not been invented and in heavy use when we was growing up. What a P.I.T.A. that would have been.

    • madz1962 says:

      Amen, brother. My house was Ok but when we did go out, asshattery prevailed.

  19. madz1962 says:

    By the way, I read through the archives on a daily basis.

    Want a really good laugh? Go read Jeff’s update on May 29, 2009. Not only is the update hilarious but the comments are hysterical, too.

    • I just checked it out – the thing about Harbor Freight Tools had tears running down my face.

      • Good call madz. Very funny. I don’t even remember that one. Maybe because it was 5 years ago?

  20. bikerchick says:

    Welp, I say hells NO! Even though I don’t have kids, I remember what I tried to get away with. And although you have good kids, I’d be more worried about dumbass friends that don’t give a shitlet about someone else’s property or belongings. Some of these disrespectful little dickbeater’s don’t give a good shit.

  21. On purely selfish reasons, I vote YES. Bound to make for at least a few great updates!

  22. Art Vandelay says:

    I’d put in a webcam in a strategic location (or 4) and just watch what happens. A well-timed call “you’re not drinking my beer, are you?” would certainly get them thinking.

    Didn’t peg you for a coddler. Plus, whatever they do will likely pale with the hell we raised in the 80s. We also consumed many beverages while riding around. Unless someone’s folks were gone, then we’d rage at their house. Even so, time to give ’em a shot. Lay down some rules. Maybe conspicuously install a Costco security cam setup.

  23. Webcams + a hidden cam justin case in a good location to veiw coming and goings at the house.
    And hey, set down some rules; no friends, car(s) off limits.

  24. macfromtheshack says:

    If you have wifi install an IP camera and you can monitor it from your smartphone, computer, or tablet. The damn things let you pan, tilt, zoom, listen, and talk.

    Don’t use that as a reason not to get away. Your only killing yourself.

  25. I was the oldest of four boys, a role model that parents wanted their kids to emulate, blah blah blah. Because I was so responsible my father would leave me at home alone while they all went on vacation.

    There was a party every time they left town. I lost my virginity on my dad’s bed while they were on vacation.

  26. You can safely leave them there alone. If you get Papa Halfshirt to look in on them from time to time.

  27. johnthebasket says:

    Three thoughts…

    1) Don’t spy on your kids surreptitiously. It’s sleazy, wrong, and could poison an adult-to-adult relationship you could have with them in a dozen years.

    2) I wouldn’t leave my house in the charge of any sentient being under the age of 30 who produced testosterone in quantity. This includes the Greater Northern Badger, the Cape Buffalo, and the American teenager. It’s self-evidently a different arrangement than sending your kid away to live in a college dormitory. An actual adult should be staying at your house during your absence.

    3) I’m sorry, but you won’t like living in suburban Atlanta. The world has changed. I’m not saying you can’t find a less expensive place to live happily — I’m just saying it ain’t gonna be in Georgia. Sorry.

    John

  28. Interesting question. The question that really needs answering, though, is what’s new with N & N? We need an update!

  29. Come up with something for them to do around the place while you two are gone. A couple of projects. Something you’d gladly pay them for (…beats paying lawyer fees, fines and court costs). Have the bushes out front perfectly manicured to look like the Seven Dwarfs. Have them replace the front lawn by planting a vegetable garden. Tomato, corn, melons and squashes do well where you live. Peas and pole beans are a must. Have them paint two or three chalk outlines of dead bodies in your driveway. “Industry serves the soul”. And…they’ll be there to take care of Andy, the canine Castle Master.

  30. Since my kids are 5 to 13 years away from being teenagers I can’t say much about parenting today’s teens.

    I can tell you that my folks would leave us alone regularly and would return to a home that was just the way it was left, but with less food in the refrigerator.

    That’s because my father, Luis El Grande, was a stone killer. He was the dad all the neighborhood dads were afraid of. Neither we, nor our friends were ever interested in risking his wrath.

    I suspect your boys respect you without being terrified at the same time. I have no experience with that, and wish you the best of luck in making your decision.

  31. lakrfool says:

    If you don’t give the yunguns some independence and slack in the chain, they’re gonna go nuts with it when they get it.

    Give ’em the run of the house for a few days, and you can see what you’re up against for the next couple of years.

    XOXO-LF

  32. Big Bear in OH says:

    Trust em to do what kids do, and hopefully they are good at covering their tracks and fixing messes before you guys get home. I’m sure they’ll be fine. Just remind them that the key is to not get caught, and to take proper precautions.

  33. Tell the boys you will be gone for 6 days and return in 4 (and slightly earlier in the day than you otherwise would). See the true picture of what they have been up to.

    • JonnyB’s idea is genius. To think of the stuff I’d have been caught doing if my parents had ever given me a larger window of opportunity than truly existed.

      I think they just liked coming home to a completely cleaned house.

  34. Sadly, my parents knew I was enough of a social outcast that at 16 they figured that I’d cause no real harm. They were right. Teenage years, wasted. I spent my time playing video games interspersed with the odd bout of smacking my little brother in the head to liven things up.

    By the way, Lawrenceville is a great place… I’ve been living there since 2009-ish. Local Republic has good food, although the hipster-organic-douchiness quotient is a b it high for my liking.. On the off chance that I see you out and about, I’ll buy you a beer.

  35. t-storm says:

    Driving or flying? Flying make them pick you up and drop you off from the airport.
    I say do it. Set some ground rules and enforceble punishments. Like checking in but none of that 2 hr delay in checking in from earlier in the year.
    Go down to jawja, enjoy yourself. Swing by athens while you are there. I think they still have a good record store.

  36. Do eeeet!!

  37. squawvalleyskip says:

    Go. Have fun and don’t think about what’s happening at the house. If they were the types to get in serious trouble, you’d be aware of it. Take my 16 year old granddaughter for instance. Already pulled over leaving a party at 1:30AM, and just last week rolled her jeep driving to fast in the rain. Not hurt, thankfully. Hopefully she learned something. Or my favorite niece, now a mother herself and calmed down considerably, who once told my brother (her dad) and me at their kitchen table that she only did the stuff she did so she’d have stories like we have when she gets older. Let ’em get a couple stories.

  38. Kelly from Iowa says:

    Sweet Jesus don’t do it!! Trust your inner voice!

  39. Eh, I say do it–I remember being left at home alone at 18 (well, my older sister was there too, but since she was working all the time, I was pretty much alone.) Since this was at the dawn of the internet, my parents didn’t have that to worry about. I didn’t smoke (I most certainly wasn’t going to pay a WHOLE DOLLAR FIFTY for Pall Malls!) Now, if there’d been liquor in that house? Hell yes, I would’ve drunk it, then tried to get my sister to replace it. My parents KNEW that I would’ve drunk it, but because I wanted to–no peer pressure for me!
    So basically, it was just me, my sister, a Three Stooges marathon, and Chinese food one night, Domino’s the next. We led/lead a very boring life…

    And to make this longer (and even MORE boring), I can attest that kids whose parents didn’t let them do ANYTHING basically went batshit crazy when they got the chance–whether at college, senior parties, etc. Kids have to grow up some time, you just raise them and hope they’ve got some sense. Or, as my mother would say, “Do you think I’d let you do all the shit I did when I was a kid?! Hell no!”

  40. Ron from PA says:

    Go with your gut on this one. Left kids, exactly your kids age for 3 days. Gotta a call from next door on day 2, round 11pm telling me that there is a fucking Rave going on at my house!!! Cops were there, 20 cars, kids all over the house and yard. Don’t do it!! I really believed, just like you, that there had only been a couple “incidents” in the past and they were good kids, respectful blah blah. But shit goes on in their heads that cannot be understood or rationalized.
    Later found out from my oldest that kids were fucking in my bed!!!!!!
    Go with your gut, my friend

  41. Test drive the idea first.

    I have boys nearly zact same age (15 & 18). Wife and I recently did an overnight away but didn’t tell them, just that we’d be home late. Texted them at 1130 that we weren’t coming home.

    18 year old has been on his own a couple of times in last two years. We have a number of neighbors we trust to report or help if needed.

    Even if they screw up, they will be doing so in a relatively safe place, not in the skeezy apartment of some lowlife dropout friend that you didn’t know they had.

    Four days is a lot, though. I’d start with an overnight and work from there. Keep them guessing when you’ll return.

    [this advice is valued at what you paid for it]

  42. Johnny_99 says:

    There WILL be a party. But you still have to go…it’s a right of manhood for your boys, and perhaps an important learning experience for them.

    However, you don’t have to be truthful about the destination or length of your trip, especially in this age of cellular communications. Me and Mrs. 99 have three sons (late teens/early 20s) and we never tell them how long we are going, and we always come home early. For our last trip to Vegas we told them we were leaving on Sunday when we actually were leaving on Monday; there was definitely an afternoon soiree planned…we could tell by all of the “random visitors” who just happened to “be in the neighborhood”.

    Another trick is to have friends and/or family stopping by while you are gone, especially in the evenings.

    The learning experience for them is demonstrating that you are smarter and more devious than they will ever be…good luck and enjoy your trip.

  43. You might as well leave them alone. If they don’t burn the place down, then good enough. At least they have a pang of guilt for throwing a kegger with a fire pit in the middle of the back yard and sinking the ridding lawn mower in the pond when they get older…oh wait…that was me…

  44. I say do it. Kids need to know you trust them. It is impossible for there to be an adult relationship down the road if there is no trust now. Left my boy alone in senior year at 18 to go celebrate our anniversary. Granted we were only 45 minutes away, because we already live in Paradise, but we had a great time without a thought about it. We never told him what we did on our weekend and he never told us what he did on his.

    • NO trust? That’s a stretch. They have loads of freedom, both of them. Some of you guys seem to think we’re running a prison camp here. There’s a happy medium between crazy-strict, and being completely absentee and letting them do whatever they want. These guys have knucklehead friends, and have displayed some knucklehead tendencies themselves. I’m just not in favor of creating a mini-Lord of the Flies in our family room.

      • Keep doing what you’re doing, people with the “let them do what they want” attitude and an over-abundance of advice generally fall into one of three categories.
        1, They do NOT have children.
        2. They were piss poor parents and think now that they’ve fucked up their own spawn they can give great advise on what not to do.
        3. General assholes who sit back and spew their bullshit in order to fan the flame of their own self importance.

        Every kid is different. You’re the parent. You know if it’s a good idea or not. I think parents who have disasters happen are the ones who heard the warning bells but did not heed the warning. Your children seem to be well raised and well adjusted.
        Go with your gut.

  45. Rachael Smith says:

    There must be a major devide between teenage boys and girls. At age 10 I was babysitting infants. At age 18 I had my own apartment. I have a super spoiled brother that will be 14 in Nov. We are 18 years apart. My mom pretty much treats him the way u treat ur boys. Im not trying to be a dick, but not being able to trust boys that should be on their own soon seems kinda strange….

    • Strange, huh? Well, that’s the way I like it. Strange things like limits and parental expectations. And not creating an atmosphere that promotes and sanctions knucklehead behavior, which could lead to big trouble. And again…. just because we don’t give them TOTAL freedom, doesn’t mean they have none. It’s not all or nothing.

  46. I’ve got to call you on something Mr.Kay… Whats the url of this lovely new hangout?
    Ahhhh. yes, Maturity IS FOR SUCKERS….

    Time to stand by your words.

  47. Thank you guys, for all the input. Needless to say, there’s no way in hell we’re leaving these guys unattended for four days. We might do an overnight in NYC later in the year, and see how it goes. But four days is not going to happen. Call me a radical, but I’m not a fan of inviting trouble into our lives. I DON’T fully trust them. That’s a fact. As I said, there have been incidents…

    And I’m troubled about the reports you’re giving me on Lawrenceville. Perhaps we’ll have to adjust our escape fantasy? This one has been in place for a long time, but if it needs to be changed, we can do it.

  48. Art Vandelay says:

    How’s about getting a comments link at the bottom of the page? That’d be great.

  49. stratboy says:

    Old enough to vote, but not be trusted. Sounds like me at 18…

  50. Brenda Love says:

    I wouldn’t do it if I were you….18 today is not what 18 was back then.

  51. aileen in jackson ms says:

    Anything Gwinnett County makes me cringe. ITP always.

  52. Rat Bastard says:

    We also did the “drive around and drink” thing for kicks. Different times. I don’t have kids and am not Married. I wouldn’t do it. I have a 16 year old brother (I’m pushing 40, long story) and from what I’ve seen of today’s youth, they are nowhere near as cunning as My friends and i were when I was a shithead at that age. Also, cops use way less discretion these days. A 1978 Caprice Classic full of underage drunks was funny back then, now it is a bend over and cough/rectal exam. Fuck that.

  53. WVBumblebee says:

    Drinking, (smoking), and seeing how many times we passed each other around town….Nothing else to do in the big town of Dunbar, lol!! Oh the joys.

  54. Airandee says:

    Counts the beers and measure the booze before leaving. And check the trash when you return.

  55. Truth be told….they’d still feel a little lonely and abandoned, no matter the age.
    Don’t leave them alone.