My son is 11 years old and counting down the days until he turns 12. For some reason, he thinks he’s legally allowed to stay home alone when he’s 12. I have no idea where he got his information from, but like I’ve said before, he figures if he says it with confidence, it makes it true. He loves to be the person in charge, especially when it comes to his younger brother. (Five or so of the 50 states have an age limit of 12. Our state doesn’t have a set age at which a child can legally stay home alone, but has several guidelines to follow.)
When I consider leaving my two boys home together without an adult, my mind wanders back to when Kaden was about 6 weeks old. I had just finished feeding and changing his diaper. Hunter was happily playing with his favorite Thomas trains at the train table. I walked away for two minutes to wash my hands. When I came back, I found Hunter sticking the wheel axle of a train into Kaden’s ear. I had no idea a 3 year old was strong enough to detach a wheel from the axle and remove the axle from the train.
As he was saying, “Look what I’m doing, Mommy,” Kaden began to scream. Hunter looked at his brother in confusion and said, “What’s wrong, Brother?” I don’t think it even occurred to him that his experiment (to see if he could make the axle disappear in his brother’s ear) would hurt.
Thankfully, there was no permanent damage done, just an ear infection that was easily treated. Kaden seemed miserable for about a week, though–poor little guy.
I realize that Hunter was young and wasn’t intentionally hurting his brother, but can I trust him with the life of his brother at age 12? That’s another story for me.
What about the times he sneaks a book in his bed to read after bedtime? What about the times he’s lied about doing something I’ve asked him not to do? Or about not doing something I’ve asked him to do? I do not in any way expect my middle schooler to be perfect or to act like a mature adult. He is still growing and developing.
So the question has been asked of me, ” Mom, can you trust me?”
My response? God’s grace is a free gift (Ephesians 2:8) and His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:23), but trust … is earned.
One of the definitions of trust on dictionary.com says, “to trust in another’s honesty.” This reminds me of a verse I memorized years ago: Luke 16:10–“If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.”
So Hunter has been given opportunities to show his trustworthiness. For the most part, he has risen to the new challenges. And we will continue to test him until we can fully trust in his abilities.
This should be fun, huh? I guess we’ll just have to see how it goes. Hopefully, there won’t be anymore experiments performed on his brother.