Personal Space (or lack thereof)

April 1, 2012 · 13 comments














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.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Riley Wing April 1, 2012 at 2:24 pm

You guys need to build Levi a tree fort! No girls allowed. :)


ga447 April 1, 2012 at 2:34 pm

I think a tree fort would be perfect or eventuraly bunk beds.


Camille April 2, 2012 at 9:44 am

I’m pretty sure both a tree fort and bunk beds will be in our future.


Malia April 1, 2012 at 5:37 pm

you could also try making a ‘fort’ with the chairs and/or table with blankets. Would give him a little more privacy though maybe with your small quarters it would get in the way


Camille April 2, 2012 at 9:46 am

We definitely build forts. It seems like Levi would rather share his forts but be alone under the table.


mel April 1, 2012 at 7:42 pm

I happen to agree with your nonchalant approach; I find that I am becoming a supporter of most of what our goofy culture deems as a tough, abusive upbringing. Large families used to share a single bath, multiple siblings in one small room, and it created close-knit children who became accustomed at young ages with the concept of sharing and sacrifice. (This was the case in our home when I grew up.) Then, when you were grown up, you actually wanted to move out and get your own place! instead of living free and large with Mom and Dad who spoiled you and gave you a great grown-up pad with no rules and no rent fee! Your kids’ll be better for it, probably. And yes, the need to get out will make the boy even more of a nature lover.

(If we had a goat barn, I’d use it for cooling off, too. We have a rec room in the basement of our small ranch home, and after the kid goes to bed, we have to have phone calls downstairs so as not to wake him. Knowing my hus can hear me has kept me from making whiny calls to my gal pals after dark. Which is honestly a good thing, since I was kept from kvetching and wallowing in my self-pity. Sometimes space, privilege, options can be harmful. IMHO, of course.


Camille April 2, 2012 at 9:48 am

Yep, yep. Totally agree.


kara April 1, 2012 at 10:18 pm

I think that bunk beds are a great idea. Although our house isn’t nearly as small as yours, it can still be hard to find private space for Sofia and Gabe since they share a room. At our house, their bunkbeds are their private alone areas where they can be left alone. Also, it made me smile thinking about you seeking refuge and space in the goat barn. It is probably good for your marriage that you have to go to the goat barn and aren’t able to stay mad for long :).


lindsey April 2, 2012 at 12:06 pm

Bunk beds with a curtain he could pull to close off space for alone time, or a big blanket that could be put over the table for a small enclosed space underneath might work at his age. Some people just need to be alone more than others do and I applaud you for recognizing the need he is expressing.


BonGee April 3, 2012 at 5:45 pm

I notice that this topic has come up before in your blog. Sometimes when I keep asking myself the same question, it’s because I don’t want to listen to my own answer. Just an idea, I’m not saying that is true for you. I agree with lindsey’s observation that different people have different needs as far as personal space go.


Kelly Sitton April 19, 2012 at 9:53 am

Like this post a lot Camille. Even in our new big house all three boys are sharing a bedroom and even when Gma and Gpa move out – we plan on them continuing to share a bedroom. You are doing great! Levi is a smart and articulate guy, he’s letting you know what he needs and you are listening :)


Samantha April 26, 2012 at 6:12 pm

I’ve just found your blog and I’m loving it so much. We too are living in a very tiny converted space (ours is a shed) and we all sleep together in the same room (there’s 5 of us now!). Alone time is something that is hard to find and I find that it’s me who craves it the most. We are just starting building our ‘proper’ house and even though it’s quite small by modern standards, I can’t even imagine what it will be like to have more than one bedroom! The boys have already decided that they’ll still be sharing :)

I’m so looking forward to reading more of your adventures :)


Camille April 26, 2012 at 9:10 pm

Thanks! Glad you’re following along.


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