Monday, July 7, 2008

Lots of Space/Not Enough Room

When we discovered we were adding a new little miracle to our family, I finally had the justification I thought I needed to get a new house: We needed another bedroom.

Growing up, I had my own room, as did my brother. I did know a few friends who shared rooms with a sibling (or two). But for the most part, bedrooms seemed to be the private inner-sanctum of a person. It was the place where we kept our "stuff" (aka: clothes, toys, books, love notes, music, etc.). It was where we talked on the phone way past curfew in hushed whispers so my parents couldn't hear. It was where we kept our diary, prayed, laughed, cried.

So it only stood to reason that each of my children should have their very own room. But our little home only had three bedrooms- one short.

So I gleefully poured over the realty websites and floor plans. We visited model homes. We visited existing homes that were for sale. Finally, we settled on our current home: 5 bedrooms; 3 bathrooms.

We had no intention of actually using the 5th bedroom for another child. But we felt mighty "grown up" to have a guest room, and we went to work appointing it to welcome future guests.

Our new home also had a bonus room. We outfitted it to be kid-friendly. Bookshelves held countless children's books, videos and toys. We had a television with VCR/DVD capabilities. And we had a couch and a futon for they and their friends to use.

I put each of their rooms together lovingly. Curtains, paint, bedspread, stencils, pictures, toy boxes and book shelves. Each reflected their little individual personalities.

I sighed a contented sigh as I completed the finishing touch on the last little bedroom.

Unfortunately, the kids were "scared" to sleep by themselves. So we had at least one or two "visitors" try to wiggle into our bed almost every night. And they all sleep like gymnasts training for the Olympics.

Finally, one weekend night, hubby put the kids' favorite movie into the bonus room VCR. We pulled out the futon and made up a huge bed. All three kids watched "Monsters, Inc." until they dozed off. We tip-toed in, turned off the TV, and fell into our own bed.

The next morning hubby and I woke up ALONE! Eureka! This futon thing was priceless! Weekend treats would ALWAYS include "camping out" on the futon together! Hubby and I would actually get some sleep!

We never anticipated the problems that would arise from this "camping out." Now, the children wanted to sleep on the futon together ALL THE TIME. Not just weekends. But weeknights, too.

I loved the idea of them being close and loving each other, so I allowed it. However, I was rather miffed that we had three empty perfectly good bedrooms that now were just receptacles for dirty clothes.

We could have stayed in our first little home and paid half the mortgage we are now paying, and still had plenty of room- had we known we only needed one bedroom for all three children.

I realize as they grow, they will come to inhabit their own space on a more frequent basis. And I am grateful that they have enjoyed the coziness of sleeping with their siblings.

But I have piles of pillows and blankets strewn all over the bonus room. The blankets conveniently hide all the sharp little pointy toys and slick covered books that I step on when I go to tell them good night. There has been more than one incident of a puncture wound on my foot that has invoked a stream of expletives that were barely contained. And I have skidded, skated and slid across the room on books, landing neatly on my rear end, or even on one of the children.

As the children have grown, I have begun to see sibling rivalry. Especially between the first and last child. They can bicker about the color of the sky. And they are both equally stubborn and self-confident, which makes for some long, angry arguments.

I used to say that they would have to sleep together in Keith's room if they couldn't get along. That seemed to nip things in the bud rather well.

But now we have surpassed caring about consequences. Keith, however, has learned how to be more quiet and subtle with his verbal daggers, leaving Amy to scream at the top of her lungs and hold the proverbial bag.
So it went this morning: Keith's voice wafted in my room as a low mumble, alternating with a hiss. Then Amy would wail, holler and scream.

I turned over and looked at the clock: 6:30 AM. Are you kidding me??? It is too early for this kind of arguing! How on earth are they coherent enough to even argue???

Would that I could put them all back in to their respective rooms so that at least they would wait until breakfast to start this nonsense! But now, it's purely principal that they should get along. Even at 6:30 AM. Especially at 6:30 AM.

"What's wrong?" I hollered out to the bonus room.
Keith and Amy's voices overlapped, accusing each other for "starting it." Emma, as usual, sat quietly just taking it all in.
"OK, Guys," I started, propping up on one elbow. "Please stop. It's too early for this! Go back to sleep!"
"But..." they chorused in the other room.
"But, nothing! You two aren't even sharing a couch! So HUSH!" I replied.
Amy comes in, wiping her eyes, red-faced. She begins whining and giving details of all of Keith's infractions.
"Ok. Ok. Just calm down," I sigh. "Keith, come here!"
Keith comes in, protesting four steps before he hits the door.
"Alright, LOOK," I growl. "You have GOT to STOP! My nerves aren't even awake yet, and you're already on them!"
"Sorry, mom," they mumble.
"Ok," I sigh. "Go back out to the bonus room and go back to sleep for one hour. If I hear a peep out of you, there will be no TV for the day. And you will continue to lose privileges until you are asleep. Do you understand??? I said, Do you understand???"
"Yes, ma'am," they mumble as they leave.

Ah, blissful peace. Hallelujah! It worked!

I still have mixed feelings about them sharing a room, since they each, technically, have their very own room (which we went to great effort and expense to get for them). But, I do like that they stay together- even when they bicker.

I figure, if they can learn to get along with their siblings, they can get along with anyone in the world. And what a wonderful skill a couch and a futon in our bonus room is teaching them!

1 comment:

ThePrincessMommy said...

Hey - you could put them all in one room - turn one room into a playroom - and then use another for all the exercise equipment David wants to buy and store somewere !!!! JK!