Me: (rushing through the front door) Buddy?
Hank: (seasonal change fall cold, fever groan) Mama?
Me: Hey you.
Hank: (deep rooted on the sofa) How was you lunch meeting?
Me: Lovely, thank you. How was your first afternoon home alone ever?
Hank: I don’t want you to freak out.
Me: You set the veranda on fire?
Me: You maxed out my credit card buying infomercial products?
Hank: I don’t even know what that means.
Hank: (holding up his poorly bandaged left first finger) I cut myself slicing bread.
Me: Oh! (inspecting) This is why I asked you if you wanted me to slice some pieces off the loaf before I left.
Hank: I know and you were right. That knife is super sharp.
Me: True story. (ripping off the Band-Aid) This is not a nice cut, but it could have been worse. Ask me how I know this.
Hank: Are you going to tell me the story about how you almost cut off your thumb at art school, again?
Me: (chuckling) Not anymore! Did you cry?
Hank: No, I went, “ow, ow, ow, ow – ai, ai, ai, ai” and then I went to the bathroom and got a Band-Aid.
Me: A proper response. We must rewash it and put some iodine so your finger doesn’t become gangrenous and require amputation.
Me: What? I am not overreacting.
Hank: It’s just a tiny cut only the Band-Aid is big. I would have probably cut my finger if you were here, too.
Me: In America I could be arrested for leaving a ten year old home alone to cut his finger while slicing bread. The least I could have done was neglected you with good old-fashioned Wonder Bread in the house my parent’s generation did.
Hank: You were up the street. I am in an apartment building full of neighbors.
Me: In the UK kids can’t stay home alone until they’re 13!
Me: Yup. (leading him into the bathroom) Give that hand a good old wash.
Hank: (complying) But when you were a kid it wasn’t like that, like kids could stay home much earlier than in Portugal.
Me: Let this be a lesson to you about how quickly the world’s opinions can shift about what is right and what is wrong.
Hank: I think ten is perfectly acceptable to be sick on the sofa while your mom runs out to a meeting. I know how to not answer the door to strangers, you have to be buzzed into our building anyway so that is like two whole doors, I knew where you were the whole time and I’m ten. It’s not like I’m five or anything.
Me: When I was your age I used to babysit.
Hank: I don’t think I’m old enough to watch myself and Amália because she has a particular set of needs and mostly they are called Mama and Papa.
Me: (riots of laughter) Truth.
Hank: But if I am sick from school again I can handle it, as long as you are only up the street.
Me: Noted. (bottle of iodine poised to strike) Brace yourself.
Hank: (eyes pinched shut, looking away) Just do it while I’m still brave.