I’m not sure how it was for most people, but I know when I was growing up, we (my brother and sisters and I) did not go into my parents’ room very often. I do not have a single recollection of getting scared in the middle of the night and crawling in bed with my parents. Perhaps I didn’t wake up in the middle of the night all that often, but if it did happen, my memory tells me that it would have been far scarier to go into my mom and dad’s room, wake them up, and crawl into bed with them. I’m not sure when nor how the boundary was set, but it was definitely there. We didn’t go into Mom and Dad’s room. We just didn’t. For one thing it was cold. And dark. And it smelled different than the rest of the house. And my dad snored.
Living in a condo that offered little more space than that of a double-wide made this a difficult boundary to create and enforce with my own children, starting with Eliott. For one thing, I practically used the entire house to get ready in the morning. Obviously my bedroom closet wasn’t big enough for two people, so half my stuff was in the closet in the hall. Also, when the kitchen and my bedroom were mere steps from each other, making a bagel while only half-way dressed and putting rollers in my hair was not uncommon. Though Eliott was usually gone with John by the time I was up in the morning, weekends and summer time weren’t very different. And when we finally got a TV, we put it in our bedroom. We soon discovered that 45 minute videos on Sunday morning occupied our 18 month old just long enough for us to both get dressed without interruption. As a result, she probably believed our bedroom actually belonged to her.
So John and I had big plans for the new house and the bedroom boundary when we moved. We were so sure that more space and a clean slate would make this new boundary an easy one to create. Now, I understand that there are parents (in America) who share their bedroom and their bed with the entire family. I understand there are entire cultures of people for whom this way of life is perfectly normal. I also understand there are entire cultures of people who do not eat beef because what I believe about Jesus, they believe about cows. Fine. I’m allowed to admit that I think such beliefs are weird. The bed sharing. The steak worship. All of it. (Note: I’m not saying I hate slash cannot be friends with these people just because I think their crack-pot beliefs wouldn’t be good for me and my family so don’t go calling me a racist or getting your feelings hurt if you fall into one of the above categories, okay?)
I am probably lucky to admit that neither one of my children has ever awoken in the middle of the night and needed me. They have both slept through loud company up late at night, thunderstorms, tornadoes, the fire alarm (in our condo), and the garbage man right outside their windows. But I have not yet instilled in either of them a fear of my bedroom. Waking up to find my 4-year old sorting feminine products on the floor of my bathroom is unfortunately not unusual. (If you’ve seen the new “U” by Kotex, you understand why this activity is so enticing. I think the ad says, “They look like something from art school. Cool!”)
Therefore, John and I are gladly accepting any tips or ideas for creating an atmosphere of fear surrounding our bedroom. Not fear like, one of my children sleeps in her own vomit all night because she’s too afraid to come tell me she was sick, but something more like a respectful reverence for a sacred place. (Like, maybe I should make them wash their feet at the door and wear a bell around their ankle every time they enter.) Because I can’t decide which is worse: the possibility of Carter swallowing some potentially expensive piece of jewelry from the top of my dresser or the inevitable question from Eliott one day: “What are these things, Mommy?”