On Sunday night at bedtime, Riley roamed around the house repeating, “I can’t sleep without my brudder. I can’t sleep without my brudder.” It was heartbreakingly adorable. It was adorably heartbreaking.
Dylan has decided he wants his own room. This is big news for a few reasons, the first of which is that our house is small. I mean, it’s not that small. It has three bedrooms, but in my real estate fantasy, I’d have four bedrooms, four bathrooms, two offices (his and hers), a mud room, a craft room, a play room, a safe room (not for hurricanes but for when I need an “I’m going to hurt my children if I don’t hide with a glass of wine for a bit” time-out), a carpentry workshop, a man cave, an outdoor kitchen, a storage room, an IT room for the electronic crap equipment that’s currently buzzing and taking up too much space in my bedroom closet, a padded room for light saber fights, a guest house for my parents, and, last but not least, a wine cellar. But I digress. We have three bedrooms and none of the other stuff, and that isn’t going change anytime soon, which is fine except I’ll never stop pining for a craft room. Never!
A few years ago, the boys shared a room during a summer vacation. It went (mostly) swimmingly, so when we returned home, we made the boys permanent roommates. They’ve (mostly) peacefully shared a bedroom for two years, which has allowed us to use the third bedroom as a guest room, a storage room, and the official headquarters of The Runaway Mama.
Sidebar: We call the third bedroom Harry’s room because he spends most of his time in there lounging on the bed, staring out the window, sleeping, and farting.
It’s been a good set-up – the boys sharing a room, me having an office space, my parents having a place to sleep when they visit, and Harry having a spot to nap and fart, but like most set-ups (i.e. rhythms, schedules, routines, and habits) related to children and child-rearing, as soon as you get the least bit comfortable, they change. It’s the nature of the beast.
The second reason Dylan’s request for his own room is big news is that it was totally and completely his decision. Dylan and Riley are two years and four months apart. When Riley was born, and he was a teeny pooping, eating, and sleeping lump, their age difference was a big deal. Somewhere around the time Riley turned two, though, their age difference became less apparent, or less of an obstacle.
Riley gave up baby-hood early. He walked at ten and a half months, refused to sit in a stroller by the time he was one, and moved from the crib to a bed and gave up naps before he turned two. (I still hold a grudge about the naps.) Dylan, on the other hand, clung to baby-hood for dear life. His fears and anxieties (SPD-related) slowed him down. Not only were the boys similar emotionally, but also physically. They played well together and even shared some clothing. On a few occasions, I was asked if they were twins!
Presently, at ages four and six, the boys share socks, but other than that they are beginning to drift apart. During this life-changing (for all of us) Kindergarten year, Dylan has leaped ahead academically, emotionally, and socially. He reads. He rides big yellow school buses. He sings, “So-and-so and so-and-so, sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g.” Whereas Riley still likes baths, Dylan prefers showers. Whereas Riley is still content with animation, Dylan loves seeing action-packed, 3D superhero movies. Whereas Riley still enjoys shows like “Dora the Explorer,” “Doc McStuffins,” and even “Lalaloopsy” (shh…don’t tell anyone), these “girly” shows cause Dylan to make contorted faces, roll his eyes, shout “Ewww!” and bury his face in a pillow.
With two boys close in age, we’ve had a household-wide sharing policy about toys, books, television, and, well, everything. This has been (mostly) a good thing, but Dylan is beginning to want some ownership of his things and his space.
There were a few times along the way when Mike and I thought about giving the boys separate bedrooms. It wasn’t fair for Dylan to have to endure Riley’s bedtime and/or 4am hysterics or for Riley to have to endure Dylan’s need to sleep with all of the lights on, but we hung on for selfish reasons (my office!) and because, despite the occasional hiccups, the boys liked being together. That, and Dylan wasn’t ready. If we ever mentioned separating them, Dylan would be the first one to say, “No, I don’t want to sleep alone.”
Now, he’s ready. He no longer needs flood lights to sleep, he’s not afraid to get in and out of his bed in the middle of the night or in the morning, and, most importantly, he wants privacy. He’s so excited about the move that’s he’s already started playing and sleeping in his future new room, which prompted Riley’s sad Sunday night announcement, “I can’t sleep without my brudder.”
Admittedly, Riley’s distress caught us by surprise. We sometimes get so wrapped up in Dylan’s challenges and triumphs that we forget about Riley’s. Sharing a room with Dylan is all he knows, but I’m happy to report he’s already adjusting, especially since we promised to make his room feel new. (In other words, we promised to buy him new stuff.)
Alas, Harry’s room will soon become Dylan’s room. There’s furniture to move and rearrange, accessories to purchase (Shopaholic Mama on a mission!), and a new routine to adapt. Wondering where my office will go? The hall closet. True story. I’m actually going to turn a closet into an office, which is funny because I often want to hide in a closet and now I can. The “renovation” will involve lots of shopping at The Container Store, a fresh coat of paint, copious amounts of decorative owls, and, if I have my way, a small wine refrigerator. Ha! Stay tuned for more posts and pictures of this project. (DIY Mama!)
The timing of Dylan and Riley’s needs and wants, likes and dislikes, and interests and activities will draw them together and pull them apart throughout their lives, but one thing that will never come undone (besides their everlasting love and adoration for their Mama) is their bond to one another. Even when they bicker. Especially when they bicker. Because they are brudders.
Do your kids share a room?