LatchKey Kid

At first I loved going to Shelly’s house. It was an exotic adventure for a girl who grew up eating whole grains and limited sweets, watching little t.v. and only the odd movie such as “Ben-Hur,” “Chariots of Fire” (now my favorite) or “The Scarlet Pimpernel.” Our routine was always the same: we’d enter her quiet, empty, sparsely furnished, stale smelling house and quickly make a b-line for the kitchen where we indulged our after-school cravings for anything that was, in a word, unhealthy. Salty or sweet, I was there.

Next, she’d show off her “Sailor Moon” video collection. I never understood why Shelly enjoyed Sailor Moon so much but anything on the screen was an alluring treat to me and at first, I enjoyed the overall adventure of living this overt “other life.” Empty house, no parents around till 6 or 7, watch anything you like on t.v., eat anything you want…be accountable to no one.

Occasionally at 15, I thought I wanted this life. Then I stepped into my home and mom was in the kitchen, ready to greet me with a hug and listening ear, a few trays of warm, home-made granola or muffins waiting on the stove. A delicious afternoon snack. Our suburban three story fairly shook with people and activity. Five active kids plus frequent visitors equaled a lot of noise, regular untidiness and little quiet…but I loved it. Our home was alive and despite their love of beautiful furnishings, mom and dad were willing to risk ruin for welcome.

Shelly’s only constant daytime companion was the key in her pocket which opened the door to a lonely, depressing after-school existence. No one cared if she had a good day or bad. No one made her a wholesome snack to eat. No one encouraged her to complete her homework instead of spending hours watching “Sailor Moon” and other shows. No one took the time to give her guidance…to face the fact that she was but a child in need of wisdom and direction, not a 15 year old adult. Bringing herself up.

Now, I’m a mom. I hope to follow the priceless example shown me by my own mother who never turned down the opportunity to minister to a needy child, whether her own or someone elses. I’ll be home when the kids get home. May our house, big or small, be a haven for the poor latchkey child and would I never forget that ultimately, no t.v. show can hold a candle in a child’s heart to a motherly touch and good food. My children, their friends…all will be welcomed home.

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4 Responses to LatchKey Kid

  1. Shannon says:

    How sad and lonely. I was very fortunate to have my stepmother home everyday when I got home from school. It really did make coming home much more enjoyable. I learned a lot about companionship and it’s importance.

  2. Grace says:

    Great post…I had many friends with similar situations and was reminded how blessed I was to have a mom always there when I got home!

  3. Daniel says:

    What about your husband’s friends? They’re welcomed too, right? ;)

  4. Anonymous says:

    That means alot to me, Hon. Thanks! I know you will do and be the same….Love, Mom

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