A room of ones own sounds like a pretty basic thing in life; but just tell that to any child who must ‘share’ with sibling(s). In such a case, one’s own room assumes gigantically important proportions – and any ‘alone time’ becomes a coveted prize. No matter how it’s achieved.
Take my bedroom. For example.
My parents put some degree of thought into making it a proper child’s sanctuary (even though I shared it with my sister – which, to my mind, created a somewhat unholy alliance between the Devil (her) and an angel (moi. Sort of…)
My room contained ALL my prize possessions (tinker toys, Lincoln logs, blocks), ALL my books (a considerable collection of Golden Books), puzzles, games, and stuffheads (stuffed animals). I suppose the traditional bed was in there also, but to my mind it served handily as a Trampoline to the Stars, and as I got older I found myself nearly there as said Trampoline eventually allowed me to touch the hitherto-forbidden Ceiling.
So it’s a complete puzzle as to why such a room could ALSO be deemed a handy place to banish a small child to “think about what you’ve done.”
It’s like punishing a prisoner by sending him to reflect on his sins in the Cake Factory.
Unfortunately (for her…fortunately for moi), my mother never seemed to make the connection between HER actions and the results. An admonition to “GO TO YOUR ROOM” not only involved a struggle to keep the family dog from following on my heels for an hour of uninterrupted fun, but prompted the appearance of regret and sorryness ONLY as far as the bedroom threshold.
As soon as the door closed, The Devil was in Heaven!
Hours of uninterrupted playtime with Lincoln Logs resulted in a cabin Abe would have occupied in a heartbeat. Tinker Toys wove alien patterns to the stars. An Etcha-Sketch was high tech in those days, though writing “Mom is BAD” only could occupy 3 lines on the screen (take it from one who knows…). Books were not just read: they were CONSUMED with passion, then incorporated into the overall construction project, serving as walls and ceilings for a host of stuffed animal apartment dwellers.
On one memorable occasion by the time Mom knocked on the door (hours had literally passed), I was FLYIN’.
I opened the door a crack (having learned long ago that the fruits of my punishment lay strewn across the floor and surely looked a LOT more like funn than punishment results) and Mom made the BIG mistake of (haughtily) informing me: “You can come out now, you’ve had hours to THINK ABOUT it.” And, as a side note (perhaps she had a migraine from all the Lincoln Logs construction noise and the cheers of stuffed animal apartment dwellers – who knows what clued her in): “Only QUIET LITTLE GIRLS can come into the main house, however.”
From behind my Mom, clutching to her knee and smeared with the chocolate cookie dough she’d been ‘helping’ Mom produce, Sis stuck her tongue out at me: the more-loved child in this sordid situation.
I observed this, silently reflected for a moment on the goodies behind me and Mom’s (unrealistic) request, then quietly stated: “Well, I guess I’m gonna stay here FOREVER, then. I DEFINITELY can’t do “quiet little girl” today.”
Mom’s face registered the usual shock as she realized that, once again, her Dr. Spock technique (re: punishment and redemption) had suffered an EPIC FAIL.
And as I was slowly, politely, but resolutely closing the bedroom door, I informed her that since my incarceration was to be extended into the evening, she would just have to serve my dinner to me in my room (another challenge, since we kids were NOT supposed to eat in our bedrooms. However, prisoners were likely another matter entirely).
And as a parting shot, as she turned away, stunned, to reflect on what went wrong with her punishment technique, I hissed at Sis: “YOU may have chocolate chip cookie batter and Mom MAY love you best, but behind closed doors I am PLAYING WITH ALL YOUR TOYS TOO.”
The screams that erupted from the hallway and Mom’s exasperated “What NOW, fergodssake??” were my reward not for good behavior, but for too high an IQ.
And thus I learned, at an early age, the value of having a room of ones own.
A virtual kingdom.
Excuse me, now.
I have a Lincoln Log Cabin to construct.