We've returned home after a week away and we have all passed the test: the kid passed the Home Alone test and the parents passed the Staying Sane while the Kid is Home Alone test.
I didn't mention to many people that we were leaving our 17-year-old son home alone for a week because it's not something the entire universe needed to know. I suspect that any attempts at true secrecy would be futile, because adolescents just seem to know when one of their number has been left the keys to the castle: they suddenly sense a strong disturbance in the parental force and the next thing you know, it's party time!
Another reason I didn't mention it much was that I didn't need to hear any more stories like the one my very helpful colleague told me about the parents who were enjoying their trip to Europe when the responsible teenagers they'd left home alone called to say, "Mom? Dad? Don't worry, we're fine! But oops, we burned down the house."
I'm delighted to report that my son did not have a wild party or burn down the house while we were gone. He did the laundry, washed the dishes, took out the trash, cleaned the catbox, remembered his dental appointment, got to work every day, and basically had a very boring week. He did neglect to check the mousetrap in the kitchen, but the mouse didn't get too terribly ripe before we got home. I give him an A-.
The parents didn't do quite as well. We kept telling ourselves we weren't going to call home, but we called, for no really good reason, on six of the eight days we were gone, and we said stupid parent things like "Don't forget to set your alarm!" and "Don't burn down the house!" But we didn't waste much time worrying and we sometimes went minutes at a time without wondering what the kid might be up to. I give us a B, maybe even a B+.
The real test comes in August when we'll send the kid away to college in Texas while we stay home alone. How will we fare on that test? Good thing we've got two months to study because I'm aiming for an A+.