Rookie Dad: Strange Bedfellows
We own a three-bedroom house. Therefore, simple mathematics (and believe me, that’s all the math I can handle) dictates our two boys should have their own rooms. Lucky dudes, I know. And that’s the way it was — until recently. We just couldn’t leave well enough alone.
You see, one day, some friends began extolling the virtues of having younger children share a bedroom. Their kids loved the set up, they said. Sharing a bedroom allowed the children to bond, respect each other’s stuff and cut room cleanup time in half. The arrangement had wonderful benefits for the parents, too, our friends claimed. In sharing a bedroom, the kids practically put themselves to sleep each night, and the siblings comforted each other –– instead of automatically hightailing it into their parents’ bedroom –– when they heard a bump in the night.
Although our “state penitentiary” approach to the bedtime routine had been working like a charm, my wife and I let a tiny little shadow of parental doubt creep in. We had successfully negated any opportunity for nighttime mischief by having one of us take our 5-year-old directly to his cell, I mean bedroom, and one of us take the 3-year-old to his. Once they were each in bed, that was it. Nighty-night, sleep-tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite. And my wife and I had the rest of the night off.
But was this routine denying our boys essential bonding time? Were they missing out on vital life lessons? Would it be our fault if our boys grew up as perfect strangers? How could we be so cruel? Forcing them to have their own bedrooms — how insensitive of us!
We also began thinking of the space benefits such a move would provide. We could use the third bedroom as a nice guest room. Or outfit it as a home office. It could be a very utilitarian space.
So, after mulling the idea around a bit — and envisioning our boys bonding blissfully over their shared estate — my wife and I decided we should give it a try. I couldn’t even get the sentence out of my mouth, “Boys, your mom and I think it would be a great idea if you …,” before pandemonium erupted. The kids began jumping up and down and, get this, hugging. They absolutely loved the idea. Little did I realize at that moment what was to come. I should have seen it in their scheming eyes.
The next day, we moved the older boy’s bed into the younger one’s room. Despite our strict rule, “It’s OK to jump on hotel beds, but not on your bed at home,” the boys immediately hopped onto their respective mattresses, bounced up and down a few times, and then started jumping from bed to bed. Back and forth, and back and forth, and back and forth … and back and forth.
Next, they sprinted into the momentarily spare bedroom and quickly put dibs on the space. “Our new playroom!” they rejoiced. They started hauling their stuff in like a couple of squatters. Pretty soon, an infrastructure had been established (toy train tracks ran from one end of the room to the other) and a full-court Fisher Price basketball court was seeing some furious action.
The brothers’ teamwork didn’t stop there. Their first night together — and pretty much every night since — they collaborated on some world-class bedtime stall tactics. Gotta read one more story. Gotta go to the bathroom, again. Gotta get a drink of water. Then the other one starts. He has to read one more story, go to the bathroom and get a drink of water.
Now, once the lights go out and my wife and I go downstairs, the late-night comedy routine begins. I must admit, it’s better than Conan. Knock-knock jokes are a favorite, even though 99 percent of them make no sense whatsoever. “Knock-knock.” “Who’s there?” “Pillow.” “Pillow who?” “Pillow who drinks orange juice.” (Wild laughter ensues.)
And once the boys finally do fall asleep, the real fun starts apparently. Check in on them in the middle of the night, and it’s completely random what I’ll find. They’ve either switched beds, or one is in bed and the other is on the floor, or they are in bed together stacked up like firewood, or they are in bed together with one sleeping with his head on the pillow and the other one turned around with his dirty feet on the same pillow. When I see this, I just shake my head and go back to bed.
My dad used to have a saying about me and my three brothers: “You’re good boys when you’re sleeping, but when you’re awake, you’re rascals.” Well, I suppose I need to revise that one for my own kids: “You’re good boys when you’re awake, but when you’re sleeping, you’re rascals.”
Brian Kantz has to admit using a spare bedroom for full-court mini-basketball is way better than using it for a home office. Visit Brian online at www.briankantz.com or drop him a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.