Where I’m from, the only people who had the keys to the house were the people paying the mortgage or finding the rent.
There were no latch key kids in a culture which was happy to let you wait on the doorstep until a head of the household came home to let you in with The Keys To The House. And it was like that. All initial caps and bold font so you were left in no doubt as to the import of what that meant.
Once in for the night, there was also the ritual of closing the house up until morning. Meaning no-one left or came into the house without a police warrant or a damned good reason as to why that front door had been opened before it had any business doing so. Bear in mind if you were a kid (under the age of 33), there were no good reasons.
This is perhaps why I have struggled to let a more enlightened generation have at the keys to the house in my household. It’s not that my kids are stupid or irresponsible, it’s just another thing to worry about going wrong.
Take the modern sleepover (non-existent in my childhood home) and the year I woke up one morning to ask my children where the child who had spent the night on a sleepover was. He was sleeping awfully late even for a tired child.
“Oh, he left.”
“What do you mean he left? Left when?”
“In the night. He was homesick for his dad, so he left.”
Is there a greater terror than your child going missing? Yes, someone else’s child going missing who is in your care. Thankfully nothing bad had befallen the little boy – although it might have been touch and go had I got hold of him first.
Another reason why over the years I have reinforced my childhood ritual of closing the house up for the night. When I announce ‘Okay, kids the house is on lock down’, it doesn’t mean the household is in a hostage situation, it only means that no-one leaves or enters the house without me knowing about it. Okay, a little bit like a hostage situation.
All of that to say, I gave my young people their first set of keys to the house yesterday, and the key fobs on sale at the key cutters spoke to my incredulity at that:
LOL – laugh out loud (hysterically);
OMG – Oh my God, when did my little children get old enough to have the keys to the house; and, yes,
WTF – when the frigging hell did that happen?
One moment we are bringing our children home as babes in arms, and the next…we are giving them the keys to the house.