As youngsters, we didn’t like that rule. We wanted our doors closed, because we wanted to play. My brothers played with cars, trains, Legos and built racetracks. My sister and I read books, wrote, talked and played with Barbie dolls.
Back in my day — forgive the old-woman phraseology — children were seen and not heard. Opinions were uttered in whispers to friends and siblings, but never to mother. Having the door closed in my house meant that we were not seen. To my mother and many others, privacy was not something children should ever be allowed to have.
As a seasoned mother of three, I do not begrudge my children their privacy and do allow them to close their doors. However, I am my mother’s child, so my rules are that doors can be closed but not locked, and that inspector mom (me), will simultaneously knock and open doors at my discretion. The exception to the closed-door policy is that when friends are over, all bets are off. Doors remain open.
I knocked and walked into my 10-year-old daughter’s room one evening, and she was lying on her bed with cucumber slices on her eyes, television on, ceiling fan blowing, smiling. I asked her what she was doing, and she replied that she was resting her eyes. I smiled and closed the door.
My 13-year-old son was next. The door was closed, and flickering colored lights bounced from the bottom of the door. I knocked, opened and asked what was he watching. Silence. I re-stated the question — perhaps I talked too fast, so I slowly enunciated, “What are you watching?” He responded in staccato voice “I am watching television.” I smiled while closing his door.
Upon opening my 17-year-old son’s door, there he sat; a bowl of ice cream, opened laptop, video game on the television with his phone in hand, texting — doing the ultimate in multitasking and doing absolutely nothing at the very same time. I asked him how could he listen, eat and talk all at once. He gave me a thumbs-up and said, “I got this, mom.” I smiled and closed the door.
Children are all different. Unique, special and fantastic — each should be nurtured to express their individuality and enjoy their own company. After homework, chores, practices and family time, having the ability to kick back and be in their own space contributes to the time needed to rejuvenate the body and the mind.
Children don’t play like we used to. Times have changed, and so much of their ability to pretend has been taken away. However, children learn to be free when we allow them some freedom — albeit with limits.
As they mature, grow and show responsibility, their boundaries should be allowed to expand. With gradual expansion, children become comfortable in their own skin, and this establishment of down-time/alone-time allows them a comfort zone to emerge from the inside out.
• Yolande Barial is a mother of three and a Tracy resident. Comment on this column by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.