Around junior year at Miramonte High School, most students begin receiving their driver’s licenses. With this small yet liberating rectangle of plastic, Matadors gain the ability to drive themselves to get food, to their friends’ homes, to stores, and are often trusted to stay at their homes alone while their parents travel.
These anonymous, seemingly privileged teens face many unexpected hardships that accompany being left home alone for more than 24 hours.
Home Alone #1:
Longest Time Home Alone: Six days.
Responsibilities: I have to feed the dogs, scavenge for food, make sure the house is always locked, have the emergency vet numbers, have the doctor’s phone number and my parents’ hotels phone number just in case, and clean the house before my parents come back.
Scariest Experience: I was home alone one night in my foreign rental house (my real one was being remodeled), where I don’t know any of my neighbors. I went to take the garbage out and as I walked back into the house all the lights went out. Immediately I thought someone had entered my house so I grabbed the pizza slicer, a knife, and my cell phone and screamed, “If anyone is in here get the hell out or I’ll stab you!” I sat in the dark corner of my kitchen because I couldn’t find any matches or flashlights, and my cell phone was running out of battery. I called both my parents, neither of which picked up, and my best friend who didn’t answer her phone either. After sitting in the dark for 30 minutes, conveniently, my best friend finally called back as the lights all turned back on. There was no one in my house but me.
Means of Food: I usually eat at my friends’ houses for dinner, and by day I just scavenge for food.
Benefits of Being Home Alone: I’m free to go to In ‘N’ Out, which I’m usually not allowed to do. I can stay up as late as I want, have whoever over, I can watch stupid girl shows without being judged by my parents, I can sleep in my parents’ bed with my dogs, and I basically have utter and total freedom.
Downfall of being Home Alone: Mother calls constantly asking, “Are you okay?!”
Worth it?: Duh.
Home Alone #2:
Longest Time Home Alone: Five days.
Responsibilities: I have to water the plants, feed my dog, and not have a party.
Means of Food: My parents leave me money for food, but there is typically already enough food in my house to live off of, so I keep the money for myself.
Benefits of Being Home Alone: It’s nice having the house be silent, the silence makes it much easier to do my homework and concentrate on whatever I am doing. Also I can listen to music louder than I would with my parents around.
Downfall of Being Home Alone: There aren’t any home cooked meals.
Worth it?: Absolutely.
Home Alone #3:
Longest Time Home Alone: Six months.
Responsibilities: I have to water the plants but I never do and now they are all dead. Also, I mail the bills up to my parents once a week. I had to clean up the house after my brother made a huge mess after coming home for Thanksgiving. My parents pet-napped my cats and dog, and I had a rabbit but a month ago or so I found a fox eating it in my front yard, so I don’t have to feed any animals. But recently I’ve had turkeys visiting me!
Means of Food: I eat air. Just kidding. My parents put money in my debit account but it’s still not a lot. I go to my grandparent’s house for dinner a lot of the time. I’ve also basically moved into my boyfriend’s house and they feed me there.
Scariest Experience: Once the power went out and I thought someone was trying to kill me so at 11:00 at night I drove down to Safeway, bought ice cream and sat in the back of my truck eating it. I was eventually just made fun of for being afraid of the dark.
Benefits of Being Home Alone: I can do whatever I want. My parents aren’t there to nag me, since they’re still working at our summer house. I can have whoever I want at my house whenever I want.
Downfall of Being Home Alone: It gets lonely and scary at night. And I miss the really good lunches that my mom would make for me.
Worth it?: Kind of.
Home Alone #4:
Longest Time Home Alone: A weekend.
Responsibilities: I have to lock the doors, clean up after myself, not burn the house down, feed myself, and stay alive. I am an only child with no pets, but I would assume that they’d increase my responsibilities if I had them, naturally.
Means of Food: I eat frozen pizzas or go out for food.
Benefits of being Home Alone: It’s nice to relax and not have to worry about being on any sort of schedule. Luckily I haven’t ever had any Macauly Culkin-esk ecounters yet, so being home alone has been pretty easy so far. I also have a certain sense of freedom; You can do basically what you want. In a way it’s a good real life experience in that you have all the responsibilities that would normally be shared throughout the family.
Downfall of being Home Alone: I have had some extra responsibilities here and there, but nothing that I feel I have strongly disliked.
Worth It?: Most definitely.
Home Alone #5:
Longest Time Home Alone: Three days.
Responsibilities: When I’m home alone I have to take care of my brother, two cats, and one dog. I have to drive my brother to school, and come straight home from school to be there when he gets home. Then I have to take him to Safeway so he can pick out dinner, because he’s very picky. I make him go to bed at a reasonable hour, fake my own sleeping so he doesn’t get jealous, and then get back up to take my dog out for a walk and feed the cats. I also have to make him and myself breakfast and lunch, and then make sure he showers and respects the house.
Means of Food: Safeway, Diablo Foods, and Trader Joe’s are really good at feeding my brother and I when I’m home alone.
Benefits of Being Home Alone: I get to be the boss. I can make my brother do most of the chores. I don’t have a bedtime, or parents nagging me about doing my homework before 10:00 p.m.
Worth it?: Yes.