Privacy has become the hot new priority in my house.
For the last nine years, being in my kids’ business was my No. 1 order of business. Unseen quiet rooms containing small children usually added up to someone being up to no good.
Today, when I enter a quiet room where my 9-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter are, I no longer catch them in mid-shenanigans. Instead, I’m met with requests for “privacy, please.”
We are not a home of locked doors and forbidden areas. We are an open-concept family, meaning the kids can come into my space with the understanding that I can enter theirs. The terms of that unspoken contract are beginning to change, and we are slowly becoming a home of closed doors.
It started with a book. Well, a diary, to be exact.
My daughter, Mara, got one for her last birthday. It has flashing lights and a lock. She was brimming with excitement to have something of her very own to keep off-limits from everyone. Well, not everyone. It’s mainly just her big brother, Declan. She gave me the extra key.
Then, Declan declared that he also would like a diary with a lock. It was a predictable move to keep the balance of power level in the ever-heightening sibling arms race. I guess Santa was listening, because on Christmas morning, he delivered a joke-themed diary with an invisible ink pen and a lock.
Declan wasted no time telling his sister that his new diary was very much off-limits to outside eyes. It was a place for just him to write his personal business — period. Again, with the exception of me. Just like his sister, he gave me the extra key for safekeeping.
Privacy didn’t come to our house alone, either. It brought along modesty, its shy, timid little friend. Honestly, I don’t remember extending an invitation to either of these concepts, but here they are, making themselves quite comfortable.
It doesn’t seem that long ago that bare butts were streaking through my kitchen, doing a last naked lap before hopping into the tub. It was inevitable that, at a certain age, those bottoms would become no one else’s business, thank you very much. I guess I didn’t realize we were there already. When you have to wrack your brain to remember the last time the kids sought you out to giggle that they were naked as blue jays, you know it’s been a while and isn’t coming back.
Declan and Mara are growing up and, right now, it’s taking the form of secret thoughts and tightly covered backsides. But the little goofballs are still in there.
Just the other night, Declan was scribbling away in his diary. When his sister asked what he was writing, he quickly shut the cover and told her it was a “secret invention and it’s going to make me rich and no one can read it — except for you, Mom.” And he waved me over to see what money-making creation he was working on, and it was glorious.
Not just the invention, which of course I can’t tell you about because it’s a huge secret. No, the glorious part is that, when it comes to sharing his private world, I still make the cut.
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.