In general, Levi (4 years old) and Charlotte (2 years old) get along fabulously well. They play together a lot, and they never complain about sharing a bed (one of the better parenting decisions we’ve made). Charlotte puts up with all of Levi’s Wars talk, and Levi is usually eager to help her with projects. About 80% of the toys in the house are jointly owned, and the other 20% are specifically designated but are still traded and shared without too many incidents.
Recently, however, Levi has started asking to be “alone”. This is a new development in our lives. Sometimes he wants to be alone when he’s mad or frustrated about something, but sometimes he just wants a little bit of quite and a little bit of space away from his sister. I really can’t blame him, but unfortunately, our little house doesn’t exactly offer a lot of places where any one of us can be truly alone. Even the bathroom, the only room with a door, is just a tiny space with a toilet, and the door doesn’t even shut tightly enough for the occupant to feel like he or she is in a totally private space. (Good thing we don’t receive too many uptight guests.)
While our house does force us to get along and learn to live unprivate lives, I understand the desire for personal space. I will admit that once or twice in the midst of an argument with my dear husband, I have literally walked out the door, seeking private refuge in the goat barn, sitting on a pile of hay. The goat barn is cold and not a particularly fun place to hang out in the dark, so I can never stay mad for long.
For now, Levi’s wishes to be alone are satisfied by crawling under the kitchen table and spending some time there reading Lego catalogs by himself. I respect this alone time by keeping Charlotte from getting too close, and if I have to be in the kitchen, I try to be quiet and unobtrusive. I’m hoping that by the time the space under the kitchen table doesn’t seem private enough to the boy, he’ll be big enough to spend some time outside, wandering in the forest by himself.
In the past, Henry and I talked about beginning construction on our “real” house when Henry turned 30. His 30th birthday is coming up in November, and judging by how busy we are with a million other projects, we probably won’t be meeting that “real” house goal. Instead we’re planning on being in the cabin for quite a while. For good or bad, this little house will shape the habits and expectations of our kids and ourselves. Will the kids be scarred for life by this experience? I guess it’s a possibility, but it could be worse, a whole lot worse, and I’m not too worried.