Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Homeschool Thursday: Room to Grow

You'd never guess it based on the amount of crap in my house, but I'm somewhat of a minimalist.  I appreciate a little flare here and there, but for the most part am a jeans and tee-shirt kind of girl
(its sort of my uniform).  I like to make do with what I have, and have just enough to get the job done.  I can handle a pretty thick coating of dirt and grime, but clutter unsettles me.  As you may have guessed,
I don't deal well with excess.

So, when I was designing our house my tendency was toward less.  After all, a huge part of the world lives in a fourth of the space (or less) than most Americans.  I grew up in a family of 7 in just over 1000 square feet.  As kids we all managed to get along in that small space, and we still love one another today.
(My parents are a different story--but I'm not sure you can blame that on the house).  So I was aiming for 1500 ft. or less, trying do away with anything excess, while maximizing the things we felt were crucial.

My other half had a different opinion.  And while he is by no means extravagant, he enjoys his legroom a bit more than me.  After a while we settled on a plan that worked for us both.  At 1900 square feet it felt huge to me (particularly in comparison to the 300 sq/ft. we'd been living in the previous year).  But was nonetheless considered a "small house" by conventional standards.    

(Yes, that's a helmet he's wearing.  This boy likes to be prepared.) 

The children were little then.  They slept with us, ate with us, stayed where we put them (for the most part) and wanted to be under foot.  They didn't care where we kept the toys, or the furniture, or the snacks.  It sounds terrible, but they were really more like pets than people.  In my head I kept scheming as to how we could justify all  this unnecessary space.  Maybe we could rent a room to a housemate? Maybe we could move the couch into the dining room and use the living room as a huge indoor project/work area...
I carried (still carry) a lot of guilt about our culture of affluence.  

Not surprisingly (and somehow still shocking on a daily basis) the children grew.  And I realized just they other day---"I don't need another housemate I've already got 4".  Four other people with strong opinions about where their beds should be, which toys should go where, who can go into what room and when, which shelf we should designate for snacks, which snacks we should have in the house at all...the list is endless.  I do not feel the need to oblige everyone's wishes, but there are still all those voices to consider.  We're trying to make it work for everyone as best we can.  

I still feel like we could make do with less--but I am also learning to really appreciate the space we have and the freedom it gives our littles to create their own spaces.

Since Wylie's move, there has been quite a bit of door slamming and kicking people out of "my room" from both ends of the hall.  I must admit I have a fairly firm rule about no one playing in my room either, without permission (though I make a point to be polite about it).

In order to keep the peace there were some signs constructed.  Juniper's is uncharacteristically clear and to the point (I was expecting a few more rainbows and purple houses).  It does the trick nicely.

Wylie's started out with all kinds of warnings, threats of hazardous waste, and video surveillance.  Halfway through the project he thought of the lights and the words became unimportant--he never even colored them in.

The lights make this one hard to see--it reads:  Please Enter
On the reverse its says:  Entrance by appointment only, warning:  high voltage within, use caution.  
Since hanging the signs there has been little need for them.  It seems that all they needed was the chance to claim ownership of the rights to their rooms.  And while I still feel that children may be better off sharing rooms (both Wylie and Juni will have a turn to share with Kale) I do love seeing the responsibility they have each been taking in caring for and setting up their own private space.

And, even though the sign may read closed its quite likely there'll be three little ones in there building Legos, or leaping off the bed into a pile of pillows all together.

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