My Family (a long time ago)

Saturday, November 1, 2014

A Little Bit of Room

My wife and I have been watching a lot of those shows on HGTV where people are either buying a house or fixing up a house. Sometimes the people are selling their current home and buying a new home. I especially like the episodes where they’re fixing up an older house, where they gut it down to the studs and the subflooring, and then redo it all up to so-called modern standards. That’s a talent that I definitely do not have.

However, there is one thing that really annoys me as I watch these shows. Most times, there is a couple with one or two kids, and every once in a while, there are three kids. I guess that is the typical family today and I fit into that category with my own. I don’t have a problem with that. It’s the way the people have to have a monster home, and every kid has to have their own bedroom and bathroom. Okay, so I exaggerate slightly about each kid having their own bathroom, but only a little. Many people say they absolutely need 3000+ square feet, at least three bathrooms, a fully finished basement, and the obligatory “open concept” main floor.

Really? There are only four people in most of these families and they must have these ridiculous sized houses. At one time, when all nine kids were still living at home, we had about 1000 square feet, three bedrooms, one bathroom (that is NOT a misprint) and no basement, finished or unfinished. Was it a bit crowded? Yes, it was. Did we need more room? Yes, we did, but that didn’t come for a few years, and until the three older ones were out of the house. How did we do it? We just did, just like a lot of other families did back then.

We shared bedrooms. Mom and Dad had theirs; another bedroom had two sets of bunk beds and another bed in the middle for the five oldest boys; and the third bedroom had two double beds, one for me and my younger brother and one for the two girls. So not only did we share bedrooms, we shared beds. Like I said, we made it work, we had no other choice really. But, it wasn’t just that we gritted our teeth and toughed it out, we actually didn’t mind it. At least I didn’t.

There was something about lying in bed, talking, laughing, and telling stories that I wouldn’t have traded for anything, even my own room. It built a great friendship between my younger brother and me, and with my sister who is a year older than me (the “Three Little Ones”). If we had each had our own room, I don’t think we would have had that. And I don’t think I would have learned to get along with others as well either, because being together in such tight quarters teaches you some great life lessons – sharing, respecting each other and each other’s space, working out a conflict, and compromise. It’s best to learn those at home while younger than learn them the hard way later in life.

I still watch those HGTV shows, even if they do annoy me at times. The people that think they’re doing their family a favor by buying huge houses where each person gets their own wing of the house will find out some day that they missed something. It wasn’t space, nor was it amenities, but something far more important; time together in the same room.

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