I'm going away for a few days next week and I've found a babysitter to take care of my son while I'm away. That might seem normal enough, except that, at 16, my son is old enough to be a babysitter himself. Plus he's certainly old enough to take care of himself in a lot of ways.
A lot, but not all.
My son is able to cook and clean and get himself onto the two buses that will take him off to school. He knows how everything works in the house and I trust him not to burn it down in my absence, but I also don't want him to feel anxious or alone at night which I think he is prone to do. Plus I'm not one hundred percent confident he'd know what to do in an emergency, and we don't have anyone nearby he could call on.
Also, as a former teenager myself whose mother used to go away for the occasional weekend, I'm mindful of the temptation to host a casual get-together that can turn into something out of control in the blink of an eye. And I was a teenager before Cory Worthington.
In an ideal world, I could call on friends and family to help out so I could take a break, but I don't have a village to help raise my child. My son's father is out of the picture, and my family and friends are not in a position to help. So that leaves me on permanent full-time parenting duty of my teenager.
For those of you who have a teenager, you'll know it's quite a rollercoaster. Some days are sunshine, while others are black clouds and misery. I'm there for all of them, every single day, and I'd quite like to take a few days off.
But it's harder than you might think to take time away from parenting a teenager – especially a teenage boy. Babysitters are generally geared towards younger kids, and they're often young women who understandably balk at the idea of caring for someone who isn't that much younger than them, and is likely to be bigger and stronger than them too.
They didn't cover that scenario in The Babysitters Club.
Luckily, we've found a woman in her twenties who is capable and confident, and fun to be around. My son was initially uncomfortable at the idea of having someone being paid to stay in our house and hang out with him. I mean, who wouldn't feel weird about that?
But since they met and bonded over a love of Scrabble and musical theatre, my son is actually looking forward to having our babysitter come over. We'd love to come up with title other than 'babysitter' for her, seeing as my son is so far from being a baby it's not funny. But there isn't a name for someone who takes care of teenagers that I can find.
It doesn't matter though, the main thing is that my son will be well taken care of, and I know I can relax while I'm away, knowing he's in safe hands, and he and my home will be in one piece when I get home.