My parents live in a tiny, tiny house. Seriously: it’s just a couple hundred square feet. They decided to increase their space by renovating a shed that stood in the back yard and indeed, it just about doubled their living area.
Only problem was, they kept having to say, “I’m going out to the shed.”
Made them feel backward, somehow.
They decided that in order to feel more civilized and urbane they would re-name the shed. Several suggestions were forthcoming: The Manse, The Drawing-Room, The Salon . . . they settled finally on The Studio. By golly, you know, it DID make a difference in their perception of the setup – and of themselves.
Sure, it’s a bit of a sham; but it’s also making the best of a situation you can’t do much about. In the parenting game there are lots of occasions that can be made more bearable by re-naming the shed.
If it’s 115 degrees outside and your kids are bored and cranky, don’t “plant them in front of the TV;” close the blinds, turn on the fans, pop the corn and declare it Movie Day.
If you’re writing against a deadline – and your kids are bored and cranky – don’t scream at them to go away and leave you alone; unearth a stack of seldom-read books (or run to the library), make a “nest” in the cool basement out of quilts and pillows, provide a bowl of apples and a few bottles of water and tell them they’re having a Read-In.
If you’re forced to take three little children grocery shopping when it’s naptime (and they’re bored, and possibly cranky too), don’t tell them you’re doing chores; tell them it’s a Scavenger Hunt, give them each an item to look for on each aisle, promise a treat to the winning team (which will be all of you) – and get out of there as fast as you can.
This works (with varying degrees of success) on big things, too:
If the power gets shut off announce that for the next few days you’re going to live like a Pioneer Family.
Don’t tell them that there’s not much money for Christmas presents this year; tell them that you’re all going to exchange home-made gifts to make it more special and personal (and help them make gifts).
Suggest that Mommy isn’t really fat – she’s merely buoyant.
Not that I’ve had much luck with that last one – yet.
What we are reading right now (that’s right, it’s a Read-In):
Me: What on Earth Have I Done? by Robert Fulghum. I love his books but hadn’t read this one even though it was published two years ago. I found it on the “books” table at a church bazaar, twinkling up at me like a diamond in a bed of gravel.
Lance: Nicholas and Alexandra by Robert K. Massie. He found this book at the same church bazaar. I never know how Lance chooses the books he reads; it’s part of his charm.
Rocky: Sometimes a Great Notion by Ken Kesey. Rocky just graduated from college and has been spending the summer rediscovering reading for pleasure. He read One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest for school several years ago and has always meant to go back and read more Kesey.
Red: Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum. He was in a contemplative mood today and I was already in Fulghum mode, so it seemed like a good time to introduce them. Can’t wait to hear what they think of each other.
Sassy: Fool Moon by Jim Butcher. Joy and Wilco got us all started reading The Dresden Files books, and Sassy loves them. Of course Sassy’s also reading six more books simultaneously, but this is the one I know she just started.
Jack: A Spell for Chameleon by Piers Anthony. Jack was in the mood for “fantasy or Science Fiction” so I handed him this book after lunch and he’s already several chapters deep. Aaah, what I wouldn’t give to read this book again for the first time!