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Both of my kids have friends over right now – a last hurrah before school starts tomorrow. And like all kids who come into this house, they got my lecture about where they’re allowed to play and what’s off limits.
The basement is off limits because they would never be heard from again. The guest room is off limits because it is a permanent repository for laundry, both dirty and clean. And hasn’t been cleaned since the last time someone was actually using it as a guest room, and I can’t even remember when that was. And my bedroom is off limits because…it’s my bedroom!
I’m always amazed when I see toys in a grown-up’s bedroom. I can give it a pass when the kids are very young – I know several people who had little play areas in their bedrooms for their toddlers, in an effort to grab a little extra sleep in the morning. But once the kids are older, why in the world wouldn’t you reclaim that space for yourself and your partner?
Or, as my friend Jennifer put it, why would you let your bedroom be an extension of your child’s playroom?
Jennifer and her children were over the other day, and as Fiona tried to drag J’s older daughter up to her room I gave the lecture. Jennifer obviously approved of my rule, and mentioned how many people have looked at her like she was crazy for having the same rule. I’m glad I’m not alone, because I’m not letting go of that rule.
My bed was always off limits to the kids, except in extraordinary circumstances, like extreme sickness. We always made it clear that our room was ours, that no part of it was theirs, that they were not to touch anything. I mean, let’s start with what they would find in the bedside tables…actually, we can just end there. Reason enough to keep them out.
I’m also not the kind of person who could survive finding my kids in my stuff. Walking in on my daughter haphazardly putting my make-up on her face with a pipe cleaner might have killed me. Do I have an unnatural obsession with my belongings? I do. And while I could probably use to loosen up a little, I never saw the point in loosening up in the kids’ direction. They needed to learn boundaries.
And then there’s the larger issue of adults vs. kids. I think letting your kid take over your room might be an extension of the whole “child as center of the universe” trend, which I definitely don’t follow.
Here in NYC, it may sometimes be a question of space, and I get that. But I see it in large suburban houses too. Am I crazy? Do most people let their kids and their kids’ friends jump on their bed and use their bedroom as a playground?
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