Is it safe to make security cameras your tech babysitters?
My memories of being a latchkey kid
When my grandmother first heard that I would be coming home alone at the age of 5 (going on 6 years old in three months), she wasn’t having it. I rounded the corner after my first day of first grade, and there she was — on the porch. While there was a time (during the Baby Boomer and Lost Generation years) where kids were freely running the streets, neighborhood safety got blurry around the Generation X and Millennial days.
However, my block was around the corner from my old apartment where I knew everybody and my school was directly across the street. Being a latchkey kid didn’t phase me nor my older brother (who would be home a couple of hours later). I already knew a great number of people in the neighborhood, their parents and grandparents. Still, my grandmother was worried. And even though she couldn’t drive, she put on her shoes and walked a mile to my home.
Her 20-minute walk to sit on my front porch is my favorite story to tell about my maternal grandmother. I just adored that woman. From that point forward, I always imagined her sitting on my front porch — even into my high school years after she’d passed away.
I enjoyed being a latchkey kid. I say that with 100% confidence. However, I would’ve been perfectly fine to have my grandmother sitting on my porch like a (angelic and much prettier version of a) gargoyle.
That porch memory came to mind while I listened to “This American Life.” On the podcast episode, a mother needed to go to work while her child was in virtual school during the pandemic. The mom wasn’t having the best of luck (or affordability) finding people who could watch her daughter while she was at work. She then set up an indoor surveillance camera so she could keep an eye on her daughter and their dog. I think the idea is genius.
Recommended Listen: 764: School's Out Forever ~ Act One ~ Big Mother Is Watching
Some listeners (and readers) will probably frown at the idea of a mother leaving her daughter at home — in my case and hers. Mine was in the ’80s, and I was only home alone for 60 minutes. I think that’s the only reason my pop-up grandmother and my paternal grandparents were able to tolerate the idea.