About 18 months ago, we bought a house. We let Guppy pick out the color of her walls, and her furniture. Since them, we have let her pick most of the decorations for the room. We have let her make it a place where she is comfortable; we have let her make it her space. However, along with that, we have had to face the issue of how much it is her space. The door has a lock, because we never changed the doorknobs when we moved. She has, in the past, locked us out, or thrown us out of her room. Her argument is always that it is her room and she can do what she wants in and with it. That argument fails, obviously, because it is not just her room, but an extension of our house (so she has to stay cognizant of that). But I struggle with how much freedom we should let her have within her room.
It’s natural to want your own space, and I understand it fully. It is natural to want to be able to make yourself feel comfortable in a room or corner, to have it be decorated the way that you want and be able to keep on it however you want – clean or messy. Angelfish insists that it needs to be kept clean, and that the bed needs to be made every morning, but Guppy resists most of this. My own feelings on making beds is that you’re just going to mess it up again later that night so it’s a wasted effort. But I know that I may be in the minority there. Guppy seems to agree with me – or she just doesn’t want to make her bed. Either way, it’s something that she has to be told to do, and that she resists. Same with where and how she keeps books, toys, and other things. She has places where she wants them to go, and she resists any efforts to change that. It is her room, she will tell us. She rules it. That’s obviously BS, but she does have a point.
Guppy doesn’t see her room as a part of our house. She sees it as a part of her, and as a place where she can express her own style. She deserves to have a place like that, a safe space to sing, dance, and when she gets older, put shitty angsty music posters up. That’s important to her, and I get that. But at the same time, she’s 6. And she needs to learn certain life skills (like making the bed, because you never know when you’re going to want to look like that’s a thing that you do). She needs to be able to keep her room relatively neat so her friends can play there. Toys need to be off of the floor so that she can move around (and so we can move around at night) without anyone getting hurt. Keeping her space neat is a life skill that she will need, because not every boss will be tolerant of things like this.
So what do we do? I don’t know the answer yet. Teaching her to balance is going to be important. Teaching her that her room does not exist in a vacuum is key, and teaching her that she isn’t in charge of us just because we’re in her room is probably even more so. That one needs to happen quickly, I think. At the same time, she needs to be able to exercise control over her space. She needs to feel like she has power, and how her room looks is one way that she can have it. As with most things about parenting, there’s no one easy answer, but many new questions.
In the meantime, maybe I’ll let her go without making her bed some mornings.