Well, we’ve done it again. And by ‘we’, I mean our boys.
We’ve always lived in relatively small spaces. I say relatively because compared to 85% of the world, they’re huge! But compared to our part of the world, they’re small.
We purchased our first house when I was pregnant with baby numero 3. Our small one bedroom and den apartment had been fine up until that point but we truly had no idea where we were going to house a third baby. The front hall closet was an option but then where would the double jogging stroller go? (seriously, these were the conversations…)
So we did it. We took the plunge of home ownership and debt forever. It was a basement entry home but we only inhabited the upstairs and rented out the basement so, while it’s too long ago to remember square footage, it had 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, living room and a kitchen. Perfect.
This gave us one bedroom for each of the older boys who were 3 and 1 because we just didn’t trust having them in the same room yet. Bedtimes were a breeze at this point and what logical parent would mess with that? That left baby in our walk in closet. (in some countries it would have been the size of a room!)
As the boys grew the room arrangements shifted until eventually all 3 of them were in one room leaving one room for the
mess playroom. It was, quite possibly, the best decision we ever made regarding our boys, though we didn’t know it at the time.
Fast forward to last tuesday where we found ourselves rearranging rooms in our new house. Why? The boys wanted to be together. Back all in one room. We’ve lived here just 4 months and while one thought the idea of having their own room would be nice, they changed their mind.
By the way, last tuesday was just the official bed moving project. They’ve all been crashing in their for the past 2 months together.
If you’ve been reading here for any length of time, you know that we tend to move a lot! We’ve lived in a 900 square foot basement where the boys, once again, all shared a room. This time out of necessity. It was the only room we had for them!
We upgraded slightly to a 1050 square foot apartment which also only had one room for them.
Then, we moved in with my mom which meant we had all the upstairs bedrooms in a 3,500 square foot house! Eek! Finally, each boy could have their own room. Their own space. Room to move and not stub their toes on another bed!
They thought this was novel for a time. But it ended quickly when we realized that someone was always bunking in with someone else. And now it happened again this week where they all just wanted to be together.
It’s strange what we think children in North America need. We assume that we need a room for each child plus an extra play room for all their
crap toys. We think they need personal space and privacy and their own things.
I’m here to state otherwise. Sure, sometimes it was by choice and others by necessity but having our boys all sharing a room has taught them things that they couldn’t have learned otherwise.
First of all, it taught them that in our family we share. We share toys, we share closet space, we share the work of cleaning up. This has given them a completely different take on what their bedroom is. I hear time and time again other children stating that their brother can’t come in their room! It’s private! I hear siblings say that they need to get out of each others rooms, “because it’s mine!” I see families disconnected because each person is in their own private domain doing their own thing.
Our boys have never had the opportunity to claim, “Mine!” Its always been “Ours!’ They haven’t had a chance to set up their private kingdom where they are chief ruler because there were 2 others who owned that space. They’ve never been allowed to banish each other from anywhere in the house claiming personal space because it’s all always been shared.
I didn’t have a clue this would be the outcome along the way, but is has been, and I’m so glad.
Secondly, it has taught them endlessly how to be selfless. Not that they are selfless. But that there are constant teaching moments about giving up your selfish desires for the sake of another. Because one boy likes it clean and another is kind of a pig. And one boy likes to fall asleep listening to podcasts and another likes it silent. One likes the light on and another wants it dark. One wants to read and another wants to play his drum. One wants skate posters and another wants minecraft. One does their homework there while another feels its time to dump out all the lego.
Catch my drift?
They’re learned about living in community from a very early age. They’ve learned that people operate differently and just because we have a preference it doesn’t mean that trumps anyone else’s opinion. They’ve learned that they must give of themselves to bless each other. They’ve learned that being stubborn about getting your way only lands you with miserably grouchy room mates.
Third, they are making memories without me having to even be apart of it. I can only imagine the tales that will come out later of the things that they talked about late into the night. Of the shenanigans they pulled in there, all 3 of them. I can smell the reminiscing of who was the stinkiest and the messiest and bossiest. I can hear the laughter later on when they recall the Calvin and Hobbes sketches they read aloud to each other from bunk to bunk.
Sharing a room has bonded our boys like I don’t think anything else could have. They are different creatures with different likes and different interests. They are all part of different sports and various clubs and have individual friends but at night when they crawl into bed they have each other. I’m often asked how my boys are so close and for awhile I would just shrug and say that they just are. But I don’t think that’s true. I think sharing a space, living in such close quarters with each other has been what’s done it.
They need less than we think, these kids of ours. Less space and less stuff but they do need each other and I think that’s the best gift we can give them.