When I saw the news that Anna Kournikova’s mom had been charged with neglect for leaving her little boy home alone for an hour while she ran errands, I thought, how terrible. And then I thought, there but for the grace of a little more restraint go I.
I’ve left my daughter alone. Not for an hour – not for anywhere near an hour; more like a handful of minutes – and not at any significant distance, but still. How much difference does time and distance make, anyway? If you live in a big house, with a big yard, does leaving a child napping while you go outside to garden count as neglect? Running next door to borrow sugar from a neighbor? Crossing the street to return a snow shovel? Is it okay if you’re only gone a few minutes? If you haven’t gone too far away? Should you never, ever leave your children alone in the house, for any amount of time? Or does keeping your children at your side even while you’re dragging the recycling bins back to the garage mark you as an incurably hyper parent?