I feel like part of raising self-sustaining adults is giving kids some responsibility.

On that note, every morning around 6:00 AM, I take my dog out for a walk. I leave my 10 and almost 9-year-old home to make themselves breakfast while I’m out. They have become used to this routine and are now quite good a making themselves useful in the kitchen.

After this morning, however, I am starting to second guess myself.

Keep in mind that I am never more than a few blocks away and they have an emergency phone to call me on if there is any trouble. I have also trained them what to do in case of a fire—we have a meeting place outside our home in case of emergencies.

I was quite confident with all of these plans in place that we’d be good, and we have been for months.

Until this morning.

Some Responsibility, Some Regrets

I was calmly taking the dog out for his morning walk when I got a call from the emergency phone. It was my 10-year-old. With a whole lot of beeping in the background.


“What’s going on?”

“I burned the bagel in the toaster and now the smoke detector is going off! What do I do?”

“Push the eject button on the toaster, and then get a towel and wave it at the smoke detector to clear the air. I’ll be right back”

At this point I could hear the smoke detector and smell the burnt toast.

“Where is the eject button?”

“It’s the circle.”


“The ONLY circle button!”

“OK! I found it!”

“Great. I’ll be there in a second.”

“Milo is gone!”

“What do you mean, gone?”

“He’s gone!”

“Where did he go?”

“I don’t know!”

Different Flavors of Responsibility

It turns out that while my 10-year-old daughter stayed behind to solve this problem, my son, who turns out is on the “flight” end of the “fight or flight” spectrum, ran to our emergency meeting place. He was out. Like split second, “screw my sister, I’m not dying here,” full on sprint to the emergency meeting place.

Good for him for remembering what to do, but still. Maybe try to convince your sister to come with you? See if it’s a problem you can solve rather than flee from? Seriously? He was outside faster than a hot knife through butter.

I’m trying to take the good with the bad. All in all, I have mixed feelings. You know, like watching your mother-in-law drive over a cliff in a Porsche.

My poor neighbor came over to help fan the smoke detector, and by the time I got back things were settling down. Not the best way to start a Monday morning.

On the bright side, we got our first big emergency out of the way and no one was hurt. I now know I can’t count on my son to stick with me during an emergency. I always told him to be faster than the slowest person. Guess he took that one to heart.

In the end, I have one kid who knows how to get out of the situation, and another who learned how to solve the problem. So, I guess we all win?

Except for my neighbor. Sorry about that.

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