The Bedroom with No Walls
We finally finished setting up the eight-year old’s bedroom a couple of weeks ago. I swear, that girl has an overabundance of ….stuff. Too much stuff, to be honest, but don’t most kids? I know the boys did. There might not have been many of the expensive gadgets, but there were toys and toys and toys and…Well, you get the idea. Dylan is just as spoiled, um, I mean, blessed, just as blessed. We even had to leave the bottom bunk off of her bed to make room for some of it. Still, it is her room and she had fun helping decorate it. So did the girls, by the way.
Zac has his room all decked out, as well. Of course, his idea of interior decorating is empty liquor bottles, posters of half-naked women, and confiscated road signs. I sometimes wonder if he thinks a giant yellow YIELD sign will up his chances with the ladies in some subliminal way. If it works I am getting him a giant red STOP sign.
The boys didn’t always have their own room growing up. When they were younger, all three of them shared one room for awhile. Three beds. A couple of dressers. And toys. Plenty of toys. As soon as possible and before any sibling blood could be shed, we started giving them each their own room. At first, it was just the eldest, but as soon as we achieved bigger homes with more rooms, they each were put within their own four walls. Of course, the first thing they pointed out was that they now had more room for more toys. I bought them books, instead.
A bedroom is a sanctuary, and it’s hard to have a quiet sanctuary if your sibling keeps leaving their dirty clothes on the floor or stealing your stuff. Luckily, I had a sister and not a brother and sharing a room past the age of five was an awkwardness our parents didn’t want to bestow upon us. Of course, sometimes in order to have a bedroom to yourself you have to make some sacrifices usually pertaining to size or location. For adults this simply means staying single in order to have your own room. When our middle son discovered he was going to have to share a room with his brothers again, he chose to make camp out in the garage. It wasn’t the coolest of choices, especially in the summer heat of Florida, but it was private and that’s what mattered.
The 70s were just getting started when I was given my own room and, to be honest, this could be where my love of back porches comes from. You see, my first bedroom that I no longer had to share was in fact a back porch. Our house at the time only had six rooms and a porch. It was a great house with personality, set back on the river with an attic I only remember entering once. It was an ugly Army green with a small front porch that ran the width of the house and a massive two car garage down in the back yard. It had wooden floors, a claw foot bathtub, and a metal fireplace in the dining room to heat the house. To my kindergarten mind, it was huge.
When we first moved in I had to share a room with my sister for awhile. We had bunk beds, two dressers, and a huge, round wooden table that sat next to the bed. It was like an extra kitchen table that my parents had no place for and so it wound up in our room. I remember putting Elmer’s Glue on the table, allowing it to dry and then peeling it off. I also remember rolling out of the top bunk and smashing into that table on the way to the floor. Of course, this could account for a twisted mind later in life, but back then it only made me want out of that top bunk and into my own room.
I’m not sure how the whole thing came about, but my room was being moved to the back porch. My parents probably thought it easier than always taking their son to the emergency room for falling out of bed. The back porch was L-shaped with the bottom half of the walls a solid wood and the top half screen. There was no door to the outside, only between the dining room and the porch and it faced a thick row of pine trees on the opposite side of our driveway. To my little mind it was just like camping only with a bed, my pool table and an electric fan. Oh, and my toys, of course.
Now, I can hear several moms screaming, “Your bedroom was the back porch? What was wrong with your parents?” Of course, the fathers are wondering if they can get away with that now and use their kid’s bedroom as their own game room and sanctuary. However, our city back then was not the city it is today. The streets were safer and most of the monsters remained on the other side of the track or safely tucked away in the closet, which my room on the porch did not have. It was like allowing your children to camp out in the back yard only it was an every night occurrence. I loved it!
My bed was right against the window to my parents’ bedroom, so if anything went wrong or I became scared, I could just “Break Glass In Case of Emergency.” There wasn’t going to be an emergency. This was my room! My own room. My sister had to knock before she came in. She couldn’t just take my toys because they were in “our” room. I could play with all of my stuff in peace and quiet; well, quiet until the cats fought or a train went by. This was my haven and I cherished it.
Growing up children need that special place, I believe; a quiet sanctuary where they are surrounded by their things. It’s their security, their safe place where their imagination can run wild without fear of being judged. That hairbrush can be gripped in a tight hand and turned into a microphone as their mind takes over a sold out show. Tennis rackets become guitars and buckets used to haul sand at the beach morph into drums. Within their walls their imaginations transform everything within sight.
I think that’s why I love that very first bedroom. The walls were see-through and my mind did not stop at bedroom walls. I floated on the river, fought bandits in those pine trees, and met ghosts in the attic above. My imagination had no walls and my dreams touched the sky. They still do.
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