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A Space of One’s Own

Forget Virginia Woolf’s room of one’s own — I’d just like to have a little sacred space. The problem is, the kids like me too much! I think I must have failed as a parent somehow that my sacred space doesn’t terrify them…
Just joking, of course, but I’ve been noticing that my half of the office accumulates much more kid stuff than my husband’s. It doesn’t hurt that I have the copy machine and the box of cool old paper scraps. But really, can’t I just have ten square feet of privacy?
I fear that if someone followed me around the house on a typical day, they’d probably think I’m pretty harsh with the kids. I’m so sick of not being able to skip upstairs for a minute without kids following me, that as soon as one appears on my trail, I yell out, “I’m just going up for a minute. Don’t follow me!”
They usually do, anyway.
I think that my kids’ brains attach the phrase “unless you really want to” to anything I tell them not to do.
“But Mommy,” my son says, “I was just wanting to say something to you.”
“Mom,” my daughter says, “I HAVE to come upstairs because I ran out of TAPE downstairs and YOU are the one who has EXTRA.” (Emphasis all hers.)
And forget being able to go in peace in the bathroom. Before I leave the room I make a point of announcing where I am going and that I don’t want company. Again, my invisible friend is thinking, Wow, why does she have to be so harsh with her kids? They haven’t done anything.
But as soon as I’m getting down to business, I hear a scream. “Mom! She hit me!!” “He’s trying to take my book away!” Invariably a kid appears at my side, and whether I’m getting an eyelash out of my eye or doing something more private, they’re sure that this time, it’s justified that they didn’t listen to what I said.
(And don’t tell me that I shouldn’t tell them. If I don’t tell them, they come bug me anyway, but get to claim innocence about my not wanting them there…)
I knew a woman once who had three Australian shepherds. She said that she kept a big stick right next to the phone. As soon as the phone rang, she’d run and grab the stick…and brandish it at her very smart and needy dogs who thought of the telephone as competition.
I don’t think CPS would look kindly upon the big stick, but I do resort to the “run to the bathroom with the phone in hand and lock the door by leaning against it” method. This house was built by retirees: they forgot to put locks on the doors to keep out marauding kids.
Consequences, you say — Give them consequences! Ah, yes. That old game. It works if your son isn’t a Public Defender in Training and your daughter isn’t temperamentally suited to be the next Melvin Belli. Somehow consequences in our house never quite turn out the way they should.
I’ve been thinking about other possibilities: do they make those invisible fence collars that zap your dog if it goes outside of your yard in, ahem, children’s sizes? Oh, yeah, that darn CPS again.
Is there anyone I could trade kids with? Other people’s kids behave so well at my house, perhaps we could just trade on a semi-permanent basis.
On some days, Nebraska’s any-age child surrender law looks pretty enticing.
Or here’s an idea: We recently let our son start reading e-mail, and at some point he’s going to see the link in e-mails I send him and he’s going to come right to this blog for a visit.
And to that I say: Hey, buddy. Go back to Cosmeo. We moms need a little teensy piece of sacred space, even if it is on the Internet.

Posted in Parenting.

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