“Let’s play a game called ‘Personal Space.’”
This playtime suggestion was offered up by my 9-year-old son, Declan, to his 7-year-old sister, Mara. She had been shadowing and pestering him for the better part of the afternoon to play a game with her.
She was excited Declan had consented to play with her and was curious about the rules — until he started laying out how one competed.
“Well, wherever I am, you need to go away and leave me alone.”
Mara wasn’t excited anymore.
“That doesn’t sound like a very fun game,” she said.
“I think it sounds really fun,” Declan said back.
This exchanged happened in week one of summer vacation. If this keeps up, it’s going to be a very long summer — for all of us.
One thing I know for sure is that summer 2019 holds a big change for the Coffey kids. And based on Declan’s proposed pastime idea, this pending shakeup might not be coming a moment too soon.
You see, after years of bunking together, Declan and Mara are getting their own rooms. The kids are more than ready, but I’m not sure I am.
When we moved into our house a little more than four years ago, Mara had just started sleeping in a big-girl bed. Our house only has two bedrooms on the second floor. Peter and I occupy one of them, so we set them up together in the room across the hall from ours. I didn’t like the idea of sleeping on different floors from our kids, so this seemed like a logical resolution.
The arrangement hummed along nicely for a good while — until last summer, when Mara pitched the idea of getting her own room.
We knew their co-habitation wasn’t going to be a permanent situation, but we marveled at the fact that it was our daughter looking for liberation. Eventually, this seed of an idea took root not just in Mara’s mind, but in the imagination of her older brother, too. Suddenly, Declan was daydreaming about this hypothetical solo space.
But at the time, we were in the middle of the school year and Peter’s busy season at work. So making a big household shift wasn’t something we were looking to take on at the time. But now it’s summer. School’s out. Work is still busy, but it’s manageable. We have run out of excuses to hold off the inevitable any longer.
So come August, we are breaking up the band. Mara will retain her spacious top floor dwelling and, as an incentive for moving into a significantly smaller room downstairs, Declan will be getting a cornerstone element to his perfect room — a bunk bed.
These weeks until their roommate emancipation will seem like the longest in the world to them. However, it’s going to be here in what feels like a blink to me.
So this summer, I plan to try to get into bed a little early. Not because I am trying to fall off to sleep, but because I want to sit quietly and listen to the two of them talk, bicker, laugh and play after their door closes for the night like they’ve done every night for years.
They might be looking forward to the future and separate quarters — and they should; it’s exciting — but I am perfectly happy to not look ahead for once and peacefully enjoy the now.
Molly Cavanaugh of Channel 94.1 FM’s “Big Party Show” in Omaha is a mom to two children living in Chicago. She writes weekly for Momaha.com.