Friday, March 20, 2009

Mischa Barton doesn't feel my pain

mischa-barton-weight-ashton-kutcher-a-beautiful-life-melrose-placeA few weeks ago I interviewed Mischa Barton, and for those of you whose first question when I mentioned I'd be having lunch with her was, "Is she anorexic?" the answer is, no. And for the others whose first question was, "Couldn't they find a professional to do the interview?" the answer is again, no, and believe it or not some people actually find my nervous laugh and occasional drooling charming.

There's been a lot of media speculation about her weight, especially since she's been cast in Ashton Kutcher's new series and they've told her to put on a few pounds for the role, but I can tell you the girl is not deathly thin as some of the tabloids will have you believe. She ate almost none of the dumplings and yams she ordered, but then again maybe I made her nervous by saying things like, "Did you know yams are full of carbs?" and then grabbing her stomach with my fat caliper I just happened to have in my purse.

The interview was originally scheduled for 4pm on a Monday, and that Sunday before I spent literally half the day trying to line up someone to watch my girls after school for a few hours. After coming up empty handed, Rigel and I finally resorted to our last-choice scenario: we'd leave them home alone, and I lined up two different neighbors, who were going to be in and out with various obligations of their own, to check in on them at half-hour intervals. The planning and coordinating was exhausting - Rigel thought my Powerpoint presentation I sent out showing schedules and emergency procedures was a little much - but I didn't want to leave anything to chance.

I say last-choice scenario because the whole thing didn't feel right to me. Kira's thirteen in a couple of months and Kiyomi is a mature ten, but I still struggle with leaving them home alone. People have mentioned that thirteen is the age when some teens are hired as babysitters, but personally I can't imagine paying someone to watch my kids who would show up in a Hannah Montana t-shirt and might actually be tempted to steal their Pokemon cards. Sure I've left them alone while I've run to the grocery store, but that was only for 45 minutes and I was less than a mile away. This time I'd be at a swanky restaurant on the other side of town, hanging out with a celebrity and having a free lunch and a nice glass of wine. (Wow - as I typed that last line? I almost forgot I had kids.)

Rigel, on the other hand, didn't see any problem with leaving them alone, and here's where we differ: while he was pointing out how responsible our girls were, and how we didn't have to worry about them getting in trouble - that was the farthest thing from my mind. I didn't think for a minute that they would set the couch on fire, or spray paint the cat, or chug our good vodka through a funnel. No, what I was worried about was the axe murderer that could pry open the patio doors with his five-foot scythe, or the perv who'd been casing our house and was waiting to gain entry by showing Kiyomi a picture of his 'lost kitten.' You laugh, but if you'll remember I nearly called the bomb squad when my laptop battery arrived in an unmarked envelope.

To my relief, I was saved by a friend who had her afternoon freed up and agreed to keep both girls over at her house. But wouldn't you know it - after waiting at the restaurant for 45 minutes that day, her publicist called to say Mischa's dog had to be rushed to the vet with a slipped disc, and we had to reschedule the interview. When I finally did meet with her the next day, I thought about how she had no idea what I had gone through to get there. Not that a 23-year-old should care about my child care woes, but I had the urge to wave a craggy finger in her direction and lecture her on how she'd be old like me some day, worrying about bad people climbing in her windows and stealing her children. Life isn't just pilates classes and glamorous photo shoots and hanging out with Ashton Kutcher at the Ivy. Yeah, I'd show her alright.

But I'm still conflicted with whether or not I should start leaving my girls home alone. What's the correct age? Am I being too paranoid? Is Kiyomi right, and they could fight off an intruder with their hairbrush and a Wii remote? Should I follow through with my plan not to leave them alone until they're 25? Is there really a convict on the loose with a hook instead of a hand?

(Comments from axe murderers or perverts will be deleted immediately.)

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  1. Hi! new follower to your awesomeness here. i'm 29 and i remember when my mom left us alone around that age. of course back then i don't know that it was such a big deal to leave your kids alone for a few hours. i don't have kids so i can't really answer your question in these times, but i know it was a good thing for us. it showed us that we could survive without mom to microwave our snacks and yell at us every 5 minutes!

  2. Hell, I'm 40 years old and sometimes I wonder whether I'm old enough to be left alone. If the wife and kid are away and I'm by myself, I usually sleep on the couch.

    ...because everyone knows that the Boogieman always looks in the bedroom first!

  3. MetroDad that's why you should have a super vicious guard dog. ya know, the kind that barks madly as it scampers backwards to hide behind you. yeah, i've never felt safer alone at night!

  4. NorCal Sistah3/20/2009 2:32 PM

    As their aunt I am mixed about this as well. On one hand they are both very mature and sometimes I am amazed by how grown up they are, but then they do something that is very childish and it makes you wonder. I have a friend that will leave her kids alone for short periods but she turns "on" the alarm when she leaves and gives them stricked instructions that the doors/windows are not to be opened while she is gone. You could try something like that. But I say go with your gut feeling. If it makes you uncomfortable leaving them alone then they are probably not ready (and neither are you)!

  5. She is so gorgeous I can't help but hate her.

    Hey! I have a nervous laugh and drool too!

  6. I'm not sure I'll leave my kids alone until I'm forced to when they leave for college. Unless they are black belts trained in quickly dispatching knife-wielding bad guys with a quick punch to the windpipe.

    I know this ultimately doesn't help you, and I apologize.

  7. I started babysitting when I was 12--newborns, toddlers, etc. We were left alone in the house before then, but my mother ruled with an iron rod (I have no idea how, because she rarely yelled and never hit), but the worst we did when she was gone was steal a few cookies and watch tv when we were supposed to be cleaning/cooking dinner/doing homework/etc. But, I did live in the country and we didn't even lock the doors to the house ever, so I guess my parents didn't really worry too much about axe murderers, etc.

    My parents also left us in charge of the farm a couple of times while they went back to Europe to visit family, which is pretty crazy to think about now--I think my oldest sibling would've been about 17, and running a vegetable farm during the summer months is no small task. Times have definitely changed.

    As for leaving your kids alone, well, they're your children and you need to do what you think is right, regardless of what everyone else tells you to do.

    Cheers, Wilma

  8. Maybe you should try building up to it-say try half an hour with you very close by. I think its important to give them an opportunity to act responsibly and build up the self confidence to be alone, but that doesn't mean you have to be reckless about it. Maybe calling to check in on them at regular intervals would help or having a neighbour agree to be at home the whole time. I guess, in my opinion, its better to have them feel as if they CAN handle some difficult situations than make them think they are too young. But, I doubt anyone could handle an axe murderer well!

  9. Faced with the same decision, I hired a 13 year old who's mother lives next door. I have also left my kids alone for an hour (illegal given their age) but they were so happy. They had ice cream with chocolate sauce, watched two tv shows on a school day and loved every minute of it.


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