03-05-2009 09:23 AM
Empty-house status is periods of time with no parental supversion.
When the first episode of the parents not coming in for the weekend occured, I was thinking, "Are you crazy?" Two teenage boys left to their own demise? It really seemed like such a foreign concept to me. But, when I think back,during the period of time that the novel is reflecting on, children were expected to be more responsible. I can remember my parents both working and driving an hour or so to commute to their jobs each day - being gone for 12 or more hours. The expectations were that we would get ourselves up and ready for school - and that we would actually go - as that was what was expected. I think expectations were simply different. I have two sons and I absolutely would not leave them unattended for long periods of time. First, I have no clue what they would do. If they actually had to make money to eat - they would probably call CPS on me ;-) I got the sense that Benji and Reggie were raised to be independent young men, who knew right from wrong and that they respected and knew the limits set by their parents. It became more obvious as when their parents did actually arrive at Sag Harbor, the boys made sure the house was in order and that everything was as it would be expected to be.
03-06-2009 02:32 PM
Their parents also waited til the last minute every week to call and say they weren't coming out after all. I think the novelty of the empty house status wore off at this point because the boys were all but forced to get jobs to buy themselves food because of the uncertainty of when the adults would return to fill the cupboards and fridge.
I think waiting until the last minute to let the kids know they were not coming was part of the plan. If they knew way in advance, there would be no attempt to keep the house up. It might be that there would be no way to get it ready when the parents finally did show up.
I do think that this situaiton would not be as prevelent today, because of "child welfare services". However, if no one reported the fact that children were on their own, (and no one seems to care at Sag Harbor) then they would get away with it. Middle teen age is not quite as bad as children 12 and under.
We don't reallyl know the situation with food. It could be that the frig is filled with enough food to last two weeks, and the kids eat it all in one week. Have their friends over, and the parents are trying to get them to learn how to manage funds AND food.
03-08-2009 01:17 AM
I have a 12 yr. old daughter....when is the last time she has read a book or watched a movie where the parents play a critical role in the movie? Anyone watch Disney or Nickelodeon?? The shows are exploring coming of age, the ability to problem solve and demonstrate independent thinking WITHOUT PARENTS' assistance.
I don't think that this book could have happened if the parents played a consistent role in the story. When the parents are involved, they create conflict that Benji must contend with. Benji is a well-rounded character with a good moral code for life, so some adults must have played a role in shaping his character. Even if he didn't have empty-house status, we would not have seen the parents play an integral role in the story...they would have been conveniently absent for all the main events. It is not like these boys would not have figured-out how to get in trouble if the parents were there...There are always ways to find trouble. They just might have needed to employ a little more creativity.
03-08-2009 02:34 PM
Empty house status - provides Benji (especially) and Reggie some status amongst their friends. Their house is a place for the boys to hang out and therefore the friends come over and plans are made on what to do the rest of the day/night - and they are always included.
If they didn't have empty house status - their summer could have been much different - being forced to ride their bikes to the ocean beach rather than riding in the car...etc.
i do wonder what their parents were thinking leaving them out there for a big chunk of the summer unsupervised. And seeming to be unaware of the food requirements and the credit at the store also bothers me. They seemed to be good parents in what I saw of them in the first chapter - a close family - and that is what surprises me here.
03-09-2009 05:11 AM
I think you worded it perfectly. The parents, there or not, did not seem to play a big role in the story. Had they been around all week long the story may have been much of the same, granted the boys probably wouldn't have gotten jobs.
I also agree that many of the "kids" shows are meant to show problem solving skills. The kids are always getting themselves into some kind of shenanigan and then they solve it and then the parents come in and give them their two cents. These stories, much like Sag Harbor, don't need the parents to move the story along. The teens are the main focus and the plot follows them so we can see how they react without being told what to do.
03-10-2009 11:29 AM
Empty house status, it's like the "latch key kids" of the 1980's. They stayed home without their parents, in this case for weeks at a time. I think in their situation they got a needed respite from their parents' volitile relationship, which may be something their mother hoped to give them. It also gave them the opportunity to grow more mature and provide for themselves by finding jobs. There were other adults in the neighborhood, and I think either boy would have gotten help if seriously hurt.
Today, I can't imagine this situation. We protect our children so much and keep them close. I barely let my children have sleep-overs, much less leave them alone unattended. In this day of internet and cell phones, can you imagine what those teenage boys would have been up to?
03-10-2009 05:26 PM
Maybe they were trying to figure something new out, but I would think after awhile they would get a better feel of how much to leave.
While I am willing to believe that it was probably a slip up with the electric bill, I still believe that their parents should have been more prepared. Especially if they had no intent of coming down every weekend.