“That’s None of My Business”

Prince Harry released his memoir detailing his life and relationship with his family. The bits and pieces that leaked out were all the talk of my Twitter timeline and my anglophile roommate. Everybody had their opinions and assessments and evaluations and snarky comments and that’s terrific. But everything I’ve ever learned about the British Royal Family, particularly recently, has been against my will. I simply do not care about them or their family drama. Feel free to take your Jerry Springer shenanigans elsewhere because it is none of my business.

“Well, what about…”

There are plenty of people who care about this sort of thing. I do not need or wish to be one of them, thank you.

Keep calm and gossip on.

One bit of wisdom that has come to me with age is the gloriousness of minding my own business. I don’t have to care about everything. I don’t have to have an opinion about everything. Things that do not impact my existence directly are often best not considered. They do not concern me.

It’s none of my business.

Yes, I’m obviously not talking about important things. I wouldn’t mind my business if I saw someone being assaulted or thought one of my friends was being abused by their partner. But whether or not Prince Harry’s daddy loves him or if his wife is manipulating him for her own gain is none of my concern. That’s someone else’s responsibility.

That is none of my business.

I’ve taken to saying that to people when they try to talk to me about things that I don’t wish to engage with. And the response is interesting. It makes people stutter over their words because they’re not expecting that response. They’re not expecting someone not to engage with them, even politely, on the topic. They’re not expecting someone to say “That’s none of my business,” and then have to debate themselves on whether or not to defend themselves for making whatever it is their business.

For the record, that’s none of my business either. Whatever you choose to make your business is your concern, not mine. All I ask is that when I say it’s none of my business, you respect that.

I have found something very freeing in saying “That’s none of my business.” It’s like a dismissal of obligations. I don’t have to take on any weight associated with this. I don’t have to expend energy thinking about it or knowing about it. I don’t have to waste time talking about it or keeping up with it. It’s none of my business.

I realize that doesn’t sound like a lot. But think of all of the little things that are none of your business. Or my business. They add up. All that energy adds up. All those minutes add up. It’s time and energy better spent on something that actually is my business.

And I’ve got plenty of that.

Fashion in the Name of Serotonin

It was during my birthday week when I was puzzling over what my birthday outfit would be (see pics; warning! I’m much fatter in person), I realized that lately I had been deriving a lot of my serotonin from having fun with my fashion choices.

I have gone through spells in which I’ve played with my style and fashion. In my late teens/early twenties, I tended toward punk/freak ensembles. In my late twenties, after losing forty pounds, I put a little more effort into my style, trying to look a little more fashionable and put together. In my mid-thirties, I did this again, though I experimented a little more, putting vintage vibes into my outfits.

And now here I am in my early forties doing it again.

When I’m not getting my fashion on, it’s usually because of mental illness and/or funds. I don’t have the money to invest in my wardrobe, nor do I have the energy to invest in myself. But let me rebound with some cash and some good brain chemicals, and I’m ready for a shopping spree and the runway.

This latest round started when I started working at the library. I needed work clothes. Old Navy to the rescue. I ended up investing in Pixie pants, of which I already had a few pairs, one of which no longer fit. I got the standard black, but I also ended up getting some patterns. I paired them with different colored t-shirts and a black cardigan. Boom! A uniform was born.

And so was my Old Navy Cash, which I’ve used to continue to invest in my wardrobe.

The pandemic convinced me that I needed to acquire more soft clothes. I had no lounge pants, no leggings, no sweatshirts. And so, I started to build my soft clothes wardrobe, which I wear before I get dressed to go to work. I see no sense in taking a shower in the morning and putting on my work clothes when I’m not going to the library until the afternoon, especially when I’d be eating lunch in the meantime. That’s an invitation to disaster.

In the last year, my library look has evolved away from the t-shirts and cardigans to long-sleeved t-shirts, sweaters, and button down shirts with tank tops underneath. We can also wear jeans to work now, so they’ve been included, but I still wear my Pixie pants most of the time. My collection now includes a variety of fun prints: mermaid (it’s a shiny, blue pattern; everyone calls them my mermaid pants), jungle, flower, dizzy, pinstripe, plaid, tan houndstooth, black and white houndstooth, black and white gingham, windowpane, and hot pink cheetah print. I also acquired quite the collection of slip on canvas shoes in fun prints (glitter! I have glitter shoes!) for some extra pizzazz.

When I got my tax refund this past year, I set aside some of it to buy whatever I wanted. This included a pair of Vans, something I’ve wanted since high school, but never had the money or could justify spending the money if I did have it, some clothes from Torrid (which began my Torrid cash and loyalty points), and some tights from Snag Tights.

You see, by this time, I’d been on TikTok for a bit and one of my favorite people there, Aunty Pinky, has a magnificent punk style that includes Vans, Snag Tights, and some really funky threads, much of which is thrifted. I dig it. But more than that, I wanted the freedom to have fun with my look the way she does hers.

So I bought the Vans, I bought the tights, I bought the threads, and I started to have fun. I started taking joy in putting together work outfits and that joy spread to putting together outfits for my days off, too.

Then I saw a video somewhere in which a woman said that you should dress the way you wanted to when you were a teenager, but didn’t because you didn’t have the money and/or couldn’t find clothes that fit. This further encouraged me to have a good time.

And that’s what I’ve been doing. I own more dresses now than I have in my life, but that’s only because I own more funky tights than I’ve ever owned in my life. My wardrobe has exploded to the extent that I’ve had to acquire space in another closet in the house. As of right now, I need to buy more hangers.

My style definitely has included more punk elements. I’ve been working some vintage vibes, too. And for the first time since the ’90s, I own a bodysuit -the strappy, lacy, sexy one that I wore unapologetically on my birthday. I’m putting a little more sexy in my style, too.

The fun thing about all of this is that I’m about fifteen pounds down from my highest weight and still ten to fifteen pounds heavier from the last time I had a real style run. I’m at an age and a weight when both nobody and everyone cares what I look like. So long as I’m dressing my age and blending in with the wallpaper because of my weight, nobody cares. But I start dressing “younger” and showing off my body, everybody cares.

Too bad for them that I don’t care.

I’m too busy having fun.

The Slow Down

I live by my To Do Lists. I’ve got a project board hanging on my closet door. I’ve got multiple pages in my OneNote with all of my projects, writing, audio, library, and other. I cannot organize everything in my brain, so I organize it on the outside. It works very well for me because I’m able to see everything. Seeing it all laid out helps me keep everything straight.

However, sometimes seeing it all laid out like that with the deadlines and everything triggers my anxiety. It’s a very specific reaction, too.

Do All The Things Right Now.

The fun part about this anxiety and resulting response is that I don’t even need to have a lot of things on the To Do List to trigger it. The deadline doesn’t even have to be that dire. Sometimes, my anxiety decides to make it dire. It’s not ideal. Sure, in the past it’s forced a high-level of productivity because I would indeed try to do all the things right now, but the panic-flail nature of it would take a serious toll on my sanity.

In the past few years, I’ve made major strides with this particular anxiety issue with a simple bit of advice.

What do you need to do when you’re in a hurry? Slow down.

I’ve taken that approach when my anxiety tells me that I need to Do All The Things Right Now. I slow down. I lay out the schedule of what needs to get done and then I only do those things. Yes, I could probably do more, but I don’t let myself. If I do, then I’ll fall into the trap of doing all the things at the expense of myself. This doesn’t always make the itchy, dire feeling go away, but it will eventually. It might take a night’s sleep to feel better. But the point is that I’m able to get to that sleep because I’m not making myself do all of the things to try to make the itchy, dire feeling go away.

For example, Grinchmas almost always triggers the Do All The Things Right Now response. The combination of whatever projects I’m working on and the need to make and mail gifts and cards and to do all of my baking makes it nearly unavoidable. The only way I’ve found to cope and not feel like I’m failing is to schedule everything. Yes, I write down in my planner what day I’m baking sugar cookies and what day I’m mailing cards along with what project I’m working on that day and what I need to do during my library shift that day. To fight the urge to do all of the things right now, I have to show myself that all of the things will get done in time.

To get everything done, I have to slow down. One thing at a time until it’s all done. The slow progress guarantees I’ll get everything done without sacrificing my mental well-being to do it.

I”ll be honest. It’s been a game-changer for me.

Slow and steady really can win the race.

Turning 43

Once again I have defied the known Gods and Universe by continuing to exist for another year (she says as she writes this blog post before her birthday so it will post on time, duly noting that she’s inviting said known Gods and Universe to kick the chair right out from under her). 43 is a funky age. It’s a funky number. Not entirely sure how I feel about it, yet, but I figure that if it’s funky, then I should be funky, too.

I’ve finally decided that I should probably do something with my life. I mean, if I’m going to continue to exist on this mortal plane, I might as well. Gotta do something to kill the boredom and keep shit interesting.

To that end I asked for and received The Remarkable Life Deck: A Ten-Year Plan for Achieving Your Dreams by Debbie Millman for Christmas. See, I know nothing about getting my life together or being a somewhat functioning adult or really even what I specifically want for my life. This is supposed to help me do that. Which is good. I need all the help I can get.

It’s basically a deck of cards that asks you questions about your life ten years from now. What does it look like, where do you live, what are your relationships like, what is your career like, etc. The idea is that you go through and answer each card as thoroughly and honestly as possible. Dream big and write those dreams down. By doing this, you actively put those answers and ideas in your brain pan, which encourages you to live and work towards them. I’ve been answering the questions since I got the deck at Christmas and I’ve found that for most part, it’s not much trouble. I live 90% of my life in my head anyway.

What is a little surprising is how totally unhindered I am about writing all of it down. I am completely undeterred by the prospect that this might not work. Maybe it’s because I know me and know my potential for failure. Maybe I’m not actually too invested with the outcome, but more the process. Who knows? I’m having fun with this. No harm in that.

I have to admit that things are weird for me lately. I’m going into this new age much more upbeat and much lighter than usual. Dare I say I’m optimistic? For what, I don’t know. Maybe I left my last fuck in 2022 and now completely unburdened, I’m able to skip through life rather than trudge. Will that last? Will I biff it and fall? Will my mental illnesses tidal wave me when I least expect it? I don’t know. But I’m not going to worry about it in the meantime. I’m just going to enjoy this feeling as long as it lasts.

Like I said, 43 feels like a funky number and a funky age.

I’m looking forward to getting funky.

I’m Starting the New Year the Same Way I Ended the Old One–Softly

I think it was my cousin Alex who posted a meme in her Instagram stories about why we go on about ending the year strong when we should be ending the year softly -resting, recuperating, relaxing. I’m paraphrasing it badly, but it still spoke to my soul.

When I saw this I was in the homestretch of a brutal marathon of projects. I was doing Book ’em, Danno, Here, Watch This with Shann, and covering three shows on Eventually Supertrain with Dan. I also had Five Minutes to do for Patreon. I was finishing up the prep for my program that I’ll be giving later this month at work. I was also working on a couple of library podcast episodes so I could have the comp time to cover my traditional birthday week vacation. And then there was NaNo, the page-a-day, the Sunday story, and blogging. Full disclosure: I did this to myself and I regret none of it. I could have said “no” to most of these things, but I chose to say “yes” and I’m glad I did. It’s just that I once again overestimated myself and as a result their were consequences.

I burned myself out. Oops.

By the time I saw this random message, I was more than ready to embrace it.

I decided to end 2022 as softly as I could.

Deadlines and schedules being what they were, there was only so much I could control. I made the executive decision not to do any blog posts for the month of December. That gave me a little less stress and a little more time to do other things. I also finished as much of my audio work as I could before December. Another thing that freed up some time and lowered the stress levels.

After that, it was all about scheduling, balancing work with rest, which to be honest, is something I suck at and should be doing anyway.

For my part, I think I did well. Even with the Grinchmas shopping, crafting, shipping, and baking, I did not end the year feeling frazzled, completely bereft of energy, patience, and will to live. I ended the year somewhat softly and it made a huge difference in how I entered 2023.

I chose to enter the new year softly as well.

I tend to ease into January anyway. After all, I’m usually exhausted and dragging myself into a new calendar. This year I’m purposely going in softly. I am continuing my practice of being mindful about my schedule. I’m taking it easy, but being productive. What are my deadlines? What is my schedule? What can I control? Where can I be soft?

After doing so much audio last year, I plan to scale back this year. I still have projects with deadlines that will get done, but it’s a matter of not letting my schedule become so overwhelmed with it. I need to pace myself better and this means saying “no” or “not right now” sometimes, even if it’s something I really want to do. I need to let myself be booked sometimes.

It was in the latter portion of 2022 that I realized how much I miss writing. After years of creativity and productivity issues, I hit a sweet spot last year that I haven’t experienced in a long time and my schedule was so crowded that I felt like I had no time to indulge in it.

This month, my birthday vacation is also going to be a writing vacation. No library work and no audio projects. Just me and writing words. No deadlines or productivity goals. Just me writing.

And if it goes the way I think it will go, that is to say well, then I play to making writing vacations a thing for the year. Find those weeks were I can just write without expectation or interruption.

I’m hoping that ending the old year and beginning the new year softly will teach me something about how I approach my scheduling and my projects and maybe help me figure out a better work/rest balance.

Let this not be one of the times I insist on learning the hard way.

The Universe Gave Me a Sign To Cut My Own Hair and Other Questionable Ways I Make Decisions

The last time I was scheduled to have a hair appointment, my stylist had an emergency. She works out of her home, so it wasn’t like another stylist could step in and help me out. I decided to wait to see what was going on and then see about rescheduling.

Only I never rescheduled.

I decided that this was a sign from the Universe to shave my head.

Okay, not exactly. But pretty close.

Here’s the thing. The abruptness of this hair appointment cancellation unfortunately played right into an annoying, elevated period of anxiety. So while I was battling the brain gremlins about whether or not my stylist would even want me to reschedule, another part of me -the goblin part- told me that this was a sign from the Universe to take matters into my own hands.

Given my indecision about rescheduling, it was only natural that I would start watching YouTube videos about cutting my own hair. Most of them were too complicated and required me to buy razors and sheers and that’s more commitment than I’m willing to do. But one only required clippers and scissors, both of which I have. And I found the style to be quite fetching. It’s got a punk vibe to it and I’ve been craving that lately.

Well, obviously, this was meant to be. Because if my stylist hadn’t cancelled, then I wouldn’t be in a dither about rescheduling, and my hair wouldn’t be driving me crazy to the point that I’m so seriously considering cutting my own hair that I’m looking at how-to videos on how to do it.

So, on a Saturday after work, I shaved my head, leaving the top long. It took a couple of days for me to convince my hair to do the thing, but it’s worked out well so far.

Thank you, Universe.

Okay, do I really believe in signs from the Universe? Yeah, sometimes. I don’t necessarily believe in God, but I do believe in the Universe, and the Universe has a sense of humor. And I do believe the Universe loves us and knows that we’re dumbasses and tries to help us out on occasion.

I’ll take all the help I can get.

To be honest, the fear of failure that has been instilled in me from a young age has resulted in me being afraid to choose wrong. That bit of unknown causes me to balk. It freezes me sometimes and makes it difficult for me to make a damn decision. In those instances, I need some help.

That’s where the Universe comes in.

Or tarot cards.

I know what you’re thinking. Tarot cards can’t tell the future. Good news! I’m not asking them to. I’m asking them to give me some clarity on whatever situation is causing me difficultly. Interpreting the cards with that focus in mind helps shake my brain loose from whatever has it stuck. Because most of the time, I know the decision I have to make. This is a roundabout way to arrive at the destination, but I get there nonetheless.

It’s not quite flipping a coin, but I rarely have a coin on me, so.

There are times when I’m a very decisive person. When there’s no doubt in my head about the choice I should make.

And then there are times when I look for a sign from the Universe and I get it in a certain song that’s on the radio when I start the car.

And then I shave my head.

You’d be surprised how often it works out for me.

I Should Take My Own Advice–But I’ll Do No Such Thing

I’ve been working very hard to reform my exercise habits. I finally got myself into the rhythm of doing two short workouts a day: a harder one in the morning and then a kinder one after after work. Doing this five days a week, that’s ten workouts. I’d been able to keep this up for a good six weeks before I hit a real wall.

I’d been feeling run down for several days. Maybe it was the last gasp summer weather change (we went from the 70’s to the 90’s down to the 60’s in a span of a week); maybe it was the PMS fatigue that has been known to whip my ass on occasion; maybe it was the fact that I’d been busting my ass on multiple projects and it finally caught up with me. Whatever the cause, my ass was dragging and if you know me at all, you know the size of my ass is considerable, which means the drag was, too.

I got up on that Wednesday morning feeling like I hadn’t slept even though my sleep had been decent. In that moment of meh weakness, I decided that I was going to take at the very least the morning workout off. My body was aching for rest and I decided to listen to it for once.

Cue the guilt and self-loathing.

I grew up with parents who despised laziness. The only thing on par with being lazy was being selfish or possibly murder (but I think laziness and selfishness would have beat murder out simply because I had DONE something instead of watch TV and not share with my sister). So I grew up to believe that any kind of rest I gave myself was laziness and that simply isn’t allowed. Please understand that this does not apply to anyone else –only me. Other people are allowed to listen to their bodies and give themselves the rest they require. I’ll even give them that very advice.

But I loathe to take it for myself.

I have a whole day during the week which I have designated for “self-care” and that is Sunday. I do as little as possible on Sundays. I schedule no work, put no expectations on myself, don’t even get dressed. Sundays (unless absolutely unavoidable) I’m just allowed to exist.

It took me years to get to that point. I spent years convincing myself it was okay to take one day a week off. And I admit that it’s done wonders for my existence.

But the work on deprogramming myself continues.

Is it lazy for me to take a day off of physical activity when my body demands it? Even with my Sunday off? Will one day off to honor myself totally ruin my exercise habit that I’ve worked so hard to re-establish? Will I immediately gain 100 pounds by not exercising on one day that I’m supposed to?

The answer to all of these things is obviously no. And logically I know that.

Illogically, I’m trying to tell myself that I can salvage it if I do two workouts after work (I’ve done that before), no matter how tired I am.

Imagine my surprise when I don’t. When I come home from work and choose to rest. Which is what I did on that particular occasion.

Imagine my even bigger surprise when I didn’t try to make up the workouts later in the week. I just…missed those workouts. And nothing of consequence happened. I let my body rest and ended up feeling better as a result and didn’t punish myself.

Maybe I should take my own advice a little more often.

Let Me Justify My Existence

I often say that I’m only happy when I’m stressed. Which is funny since an overabundance of stress kinda broke me once. But when it comes to my own projects and self-imposed deadlines, I am at my best when I am overscheduled. At least that’s what I tell myself.

The other day, though, I realized that it’s more than that. While I do like to keep reasonably busy with my projects and sometimes I do overschedule myself because in moments of productive optimism I forget myself, I think I also end up doing so many projects at once to justify my existence.

Allow me to elaborate.

I have -both by accident and by design- foregone a traditional adult life. I never wanted one and eventually finagled myself out of it. As such, I haven’t worked a full-time job since 2011 (I hated that gig). Even when I was working three jobs, I was still technically only working part-time. I have come to realize that I am very much like my Great-Uncle Junior: I am a working fiend when I work, but I don’t want to work anymore than I have to.

Which is fine. But that capitalistic narrative that’s been instilled in me since childhood that I was supposed to graduate high school, go to college, get a “good” job, get married, have kids, hit my mid-life crisis, get divorced, get re-married, and have my second family is still pretty ingrained despite all of my work at deprogramming myself. I feel compelled to prove that I’m not a waste of DNA and to justify my continued existence by throwing myself into my other work.

I worked full-time until I went to college the third time. I was between jobs when I started that last go ’round and when I finally got a new job, I only worked part-time because I was going to school. When I failed to go back because all I had left was math and science and I needed to bone up on my algebra before I took the placement test and I was going to take a semester off to prepare for that and I didn’t prepare for that and therefore, didn’t go back, I kept working part-time. I was returning to writing in earnest, I said. And I did. And when I inevitably walked out of that gig and got myself blacklisted from every being hired at Wal-Mart again (when I burn a bridge…), I was still committed to writing, even though I wasn’t really making any money off of it.

Fifteen years later, and I’m still playing that same song. Yes, I’m only working at the library part-time, but I’ve got multiple Patreon projects, podcasting projects, and writing projects going on, too. I’m not some lazy layabout. I’m working, I just don’t get paid for a lot of it. (Yet. One day.) It doesn’t help working with people who seem baffled that I could have anything else going on in my life considering I only work part-time and I’m not married and I don’t have kids. What do you mean you’re busy?

Believe me, I am very pressed.

The thing is that on a very conscious level, I know I don’t owe anyone an explanation for how I’ve constructed my life. It’s my business how I live and as long as I’m fine with it and it’s legal and (somewhat) moral, then you should be fine with that, too.

But on another level, I cannot escape the perceived judgment of society glaring at me like Sauron’s eye. It’s a guilt that I shouldn’t have, but that I still struggle to escape.

Maybe one day I’ll chuck it all into Mt. Doom.

How To Library

If you didn’t know, September is Library Card Sign-up Month.

This is the instructional/refresher I wish I could do for patrons because I feel like some people weren’t paying attention at all when using a library was discussed back in school and with some of the younger kids coming in, I’m wondering if that’s not one of the curriculum bits dropped due to lack of funding.

Yes. It is a bit snarky. I will not apologize for that.

Here we go. The absolute basics of How To Library:

  1. Have your library card with you if you want to check items out. You would think I wouldn’t have to say that, but it turns out the number of people who come into the library without their cards is staggering. If you lose it, let us know and we’ll replace it. If you left it at home accidentally because you switched out your purse or grabbed the wrong wallet, okay, I get that. That happens. Ways to combat forgetfulness? If your library has an app, use that. It should have your card on it. Or take a picture of your card’s barcode. We can scan that most of the time. Or we can use your ID. Don’t have your ID? What in the absolute fuck are you doing driving around then? How the hell will anyone ID your corpse when it’s found in a ditch somewhere? I do not understand you people at all.
  2. Return your items on time and undamaged. You are borrowing an item. BORROWING IT. Would you borrow something from your friend, keep it months after you agreed to give it back, and trash it in the process? If you would, I don’t want your ass in my library or as my friend. Some libraries still have fines. Mine doesn’t. That means you’re not penalized for not bringing your item back on time, but you should still endeavor to do so. If your item is going to be late, you can renew it. You might even be able to do that over the phone (we do that at our library) or online. And if something does happen to the item you’ve checked out, bring it to the circ desk and own up to it. Because we’re more likely to charge you if you ditch it in the dropbox and run away rather than showing it to us and explaining what happened to it. Think I’m lying? We’ve got a book in our collection with tired tread from a whole ass car on the title page (that person was having one hell of an interesting day). Some damage we can live with and we’ll be more likely to let you live with it too if you take responsibility.
  3. Learn your library’s shelving system. I can’t speak for every library, but when it comes to fiction, 9 times out of 10, the books are going to be shelved by author’s last name in alphabetical order. I don’t understand why this is a mystery to so many people. Non-fiction can be trickier. Some libraries still use Dewey Decimal, some don’t. Mine uses a subject based system, but guess what? The subjects are still in alphabetical order. Movies, TV shows, and music can be the same way. We organize ours by genre, but within the genres…alphabetical order. We use the alphabet a lot. It helps with finding things. Speaking of which…
  4. Learn how to use your library’s search. Some libraries may still have card catalogs. Mine doesn’t. Ours is now computer based. Either/or, spend some time learning how to use whatever your library uses. This includes any searching online in the comfort of your own home via whatever apps/sites your library might have. Our computer search can be done by title, author, keyword, etc. and then with a click you can find out the call number. We are happy to help you find whatever item your are looking for, but we are just as happy if you find that item yourself. Believe me. Our feelings will not be hurt if you find that book on your own.

The basic tips make my life as a library worker easier. These basic tips also make your life as a patron easier. Knowing where stuff is and how to find it makes the library more user-friendly and less intimidating. And that’s what we want! Of course, if you have any questions about anything in the library, ask a library worker. We will be happy to answer your questions because we want you to have a good library experience and that’s what the basics do -build a foundation for a good library experience.

I realize this is a bit of a snarky list (particularly the first two), but it’s these four things that haunt me the most. Honestly, the number of people who are indignant about the idea of having to have their library card with them to check items out is mind-boggling (the number of people rolling without their IDs more so). But I feel like a serious disservice is being done here by not properly educating people on the basics of librarying. I want to fix that.

So bring your damn library card and return your shit on time.

Parental Supervision–Home Alone Edition

I was 11 the first time I babysat for someone. I was considered very responsible and somewhat mature for my age, and even though I lacked in some areas (my cooking skills were below subpar; I couldn’t even work a frozen pizza), I was considered a pretty good babysitter.

I have no idea what any of the adults involved were thinking.

But back in the ’80s and ’90s, it wasn’t an uncommon thing. Gen Xers were known as latchkey kids. Older Millennials fell into that category, too. We’d come home from school and be expected to keep ourselves alive until our parents came home from work. Okay, that was the situation for a lot of kids. Not me in particular. My mom ran a daycare in the house, so I had a parent waiting for me when I came home from school. That didn’t mean that we weren’t left home alone sometimes.

Once I was deemed old enough to start babysitting, I was deemed old enough to be left home alone with my sister in my charge. It wasn’t really babysitting since my sister is only 18 months younger than I am. It was just being left home alone for a few hours. The rules were simple: don’t answer the door, don’t use the stove, and don’t use the iron. I have no idea why the last one was included. My sister and I weren’t known for our out of control ironing compulsions. But it was put on the list.

Nothing interesting every happened while we were left home alone, at least not that I remember. We just hung out and watched TV and either got along or ignored each other. Maybe I dreamed up what-if scenarios, but I’ve always had an active imagination.

We were left alone at friends’ houses, too. Working parents were common in my friends group, including some single moms. My parents thought nothing of my sister and I going over to our friends’ house to hang out unsupervised. We were good kids, it was a small town. There was nothing to worry about. And there really wasn’t, at least from the good kids perspective. Aside from some minor shenanigans, we really were good kids. Could things have gone wrong? Of course. But they never did. We were lucky.

Since nothing ever happened while we were younger, it just meant that we were considered responsible enough to be left home alone for longer periods of time as we got older. By the time I was 16, I was being left alone for entire weekends. Had I been something other than a severely depressed introvert, I might have taken advantage of that. Lucky for my parents, I was a mentally ill lump. And a pretty good kid. Most of the time.

Am I saying that parents should abandoned their young children for periods of time, particularly in the care or company of other young children? Of course not. Only parents can decide if their young are capable enough to survive a few hours unattended in a safe location. Apparently the law also has input on this now, as in many place they’ve enacted laws about how old a child has to be before they can be left alone. But legalities aside, it really does depend on the child and the parents.

I mean while I was babysitting at eleven, one of my classmates was being babysat by neighbors.

Only you know whether or not your unsupervised kid will blow up a microwave.