Wednesday, January 20, 2010


My office is a repurposed breakfast nook, too small for my family of six to eat in all at once. It has a doorway, but no door (which you've heard me complain about). I like my office; I like it a lot. Over the years, I've decorated it myself, hanging sunflower wall paper, painting the trim a matching brown, hanging lace curtains. It is probably the most feminine room in the house. The walls are strewn with straw hats, prints of gardens and children with dogs, gardening equipment, and a sunflower clock that Gary bought for me a couple of years ago at a flea market. Dangling from the ceiling are several strands of dried cayenne peppers.  Just behind me is Fox Moulder's "I want to believe" poster from X-files. No, it does not match the decor, but it does match me. Of course there is my desk which holds the computer I write on, family financial records, and homeschool assignments I haven't yet graded or are waiting to be stored away. Nearby is an ancient, twenty year old file cabinet holding all the family records, good news and bad, and old hard copies of writing projects.  There's a bookshelves full of books ranging from volumes of poetry, to dog books, to "how to write a novel books", to books on parenting, a couple of Bibles, some "how to be a good Christian wife/parent", and some of my favorite fiction. It is an all purpose room, with the closet full of candle making supplies, homeschooling books, microscopes, telescopes, arts and crafts supplies,  bird seed, and more gardening supplies. The boys' school books live in stacked baskets just by the door. It is not easy to keep this all organized and I often don't make it.

But as much as I like this space I've concluded that I like family peace more. Jeremiah and Daniel share a room, as they have for most of their lives. This has always been a mixed blessing. Jeremiah has a strong personality and a tendency to assume that everyone will eventually see that he's right if he continues to insist on it long enough. Daniel is quieter, inclined to go along to get along,  He hates to rock the boat and will often not bother to correct you even if he's wrongly accused. They are both terrible slobs, though I'm beginning to suspect that Jeremiah is the worst of the two. (Joe and Sam, who also share a room, are NOT slobs. I would love to know how this occurred as they've had less coaching than the other two received when they were small).

Until about the last year, this arrangement more or less worked.  There were arguments about whose stuff was whose, but it was relatively minor. I figured we could continue this until Jeremiah moved out (So far, this is on track to happen in August). But as of late I've observed a lot of disturbing trends.

Jeremiah is a typical nineteen year old college kid; he stays up half the night and sleeps half the day when he can. Like I used to be able to, he can run on fumes for weeks at a time without needing to catch up on his sleep.  When he doesn't have homework or studying to do, he practices guitar (electric) and plays video games, neither of which are quiet occupations.  He does this without consideration for his sleeping roommate. No, I do not think this is cute. In fact, the thoughtlessness infuriates me. His Dad finally took him to task recently, spelling out specific ground rules (since my specific ground rules were apparently not clear?). He more or less  abides by them. Usually less--and he waits until his Dad isn't home to try the "less", which means I'm usually the enforcer and seen as the enemy of all that is cool and fun.

Daniel is not a night owl, quite the opposite in fact. He has always needed more sleep than Jeremiah and these days he has to be up at five to meet the bus at six. He doesn't get home from school until after four.  He's about to start baseball practice in hopes of joining the team which means he'll need even more rest. He's a straight A student, but it does not come easily to him, and being tired does not help.

Over the last few weeks, I've griped and complained about Jeremiah's thoughtlessness--to him, to his father, to my mother, to a couple of friends, to strangers in the grocery store . . . But none of it makes me feel particularly good and it does not solve the continuing problem. Finally I had to admit, that regardless of what seems to me to be common courtesy (Your roommate is sleeping and you're playing "Awesome God" on your electric guitar? Umm Hello?), or how well we've raised him, or how much I wish that Daniel would roll over and threaten to beat him up if he doesn't get quiet, it's clear to me that the boy isn't going to get the message soon enough to do Daniel any good. We can't do this for another eight months.

So I studied our available spaces and concluded that if we move some furniture around in my room and store some things (mostly books and a treadmill that's not working right anyway), that we can just about fit my desk and the file cabinet in a corner of our bedroom.  I like my bedroom. It's blue (my favorite color), it's usually clean, and it's quiet--at the far end of the house away from the television, voices, and the phone.

And I reasoned that the move would be temporary, that I could do anything for eight months and that this would mean moving Daniel, Sam, and Joe into better living arrangements sooner. Daniel could take over Joe and Sam's much smaller room; Joe and Sam could take over the larger bedroom that Jeremiah and Daniel now share.  They could take their respective dog's kennels with them, which would open up large spaces in the living area (one kennel serves as an end table with a nice throw of the top--it will be nice to have a real end table again). Jeremiah would move into what is now my office--TEMPORARILY.

We had a family pow-wow. I was crowned Best Mother Ever by four very excited boys. We will make the shift over the next couple of weeks. This is TEMPORARY I reminded everyone--especially Jeremiah. You will get to live with my wallpaper and the stuff in the closet. But that's okay because this is TEMPORARY as you will be moving out soon. Sure, he said. Thanks, Mom.

Yesterday Jeremiah came in with a roll of masking tape.

"What's that for?" I asked.

"To measure out where I'm going to put things."

Okay, I could understand that.

"How attached are you to this wallpaper?" he asked.

"Very. Have I mentioned this is TEMPORARY?"

"Well, couldn't you just put more up after I move out?"

"Have you ever hung wallpaper?"

"No," he admitted.

"It is not easy at all. It took me a week to paint and hang the wallpaper in here. I don't want to do it again any time soon."

"Yeah. But it needs some repairing anyway." He motioned toward the place his dad and he had accidentally torn it while moving something out the back door.

"Yup. That's what the extra roll of paper in the closet is for. Once you move out, I'll repair that."

He sighed. "Okay, I guess I'll just have to live with it."

Gee, ya think? Especially as this is TEMPORARY?

Why do I get the feeling he is never going to leave?


Debby said...

But then he will Mary, and the suddeness will leave you gasping.

Scotty said...

Hmmm... A couple of things I'm not sure I agree with in this post, Mary, but I don't think it would be appropriate of me to comment here without sounding like I was passing judgment (which I assure you I'm not) - if you're interested in hearing my thoughts on that I can email if ya like...