I drove the kids to the craft store yesterday (more on that later) and T. used the time in the van to draw a picture. "Look Mama!' she said, holding up a picture for me to see. "I drew a picture of the way my house will look when I grow up." The house was a big square, with cute asymmetrical windows, and a huge potted plant on the front porch. It looked nice, and cheery, and the sort of place T. might live in, when she is a grown-up.
"That's a waste of time," L. said cynically from the back row seat. "No one ever grows up to live in the houses they drew when they were kids."
T. studied her picture some more. "Well I will," she said. "It's can't be that hard to do."
We are undertaking a huge project these days: remodeling L.'s bedroom. Early last year he asked if he could get a "new look" for his room as part of his 5th grade graduation/birthday gift. This is also an important part of his transition to middle school--a clean slate, fresh start, and all that. Right before we left for the beach he got his hair cut--a new, short look, also part of the "new L." and a change we've been working on for about a year. Getting his hair cut was really big for L. He was very attached to his long hair, but his attachment to keeping it that way was also connected in complicated ways to his anxiety. Agreeing to getting it cut really was a milestone for him, and I think he's happy with the new look.
Back in October, L. picked out the exact room he wanted. It looks just like this one. Much to L.'s dismay, we told him months ago we couldn't afford to duplicate, to the smallest detail, the exact room in the picture, but we did tell him we would buy him the loft bed/desk and mattress. We are also--as I type this--taping and prepping the walls for painting. He already has an Ikea dresser and bookcase in natural wood and we were able, after much discussion, to convince him that these would look just fine in his new room.
We're placing the order for his furniture tonight. In the next day or two we'll take a trip to the paint store and settle on the perfect shade of blue.
It's taken days and days to get all the stuff out of his room--much longer than we thought it would. L. is a hoarder by nature, and his desk drawers, all the space under his bed, and every corner of his room was filled with wrappers to things, papers, stray catalogs from his catalog collection, and a ridiculous number of loose Lego and tiny weapons and helmets belonging to his Star Wars figures. We gave L. cardboard boxes and let him pick the "categories" for the boxes: for instance, there was a box for miscellaneous keepsakes, a box for catalogs, a box for books he wanted to keep, and books he could put into storage in the crawl space. We did give him a box for things he could throw out but, as we predicted, that box stayed empty throughout the whole process. Needless to say, I've gone behind him with a trash bag and collected the wrappers and obvious disposable items. I think having some control over the process has really helped L. deal with this huge transition. It's been hard for him to dismantle his room, piece by piece, and he's had to take lots of breaks along the way. In the end, though, I think he's managed to keep his eyes on the prize, and I hope the new room will truly represent the fresh and positive start he so deserves next year.
At bedtime last night T. was still thinking about her picture of her future grown-up home, and L.'s comment to her in the van. We had just spent some time before bed putting away all the books she inherited from L.'s room in the great clean-up. "Mama," she said. "Did you grow up to live in the house you drew when you were my age?"
DId I? I couldn't remember. Maybe I drew pictures of a two-story brick colonial, with a potted fern on the front porch and black shutters. I'm not sure I did, though, and I told her this.
"That doesn't mean I didn't dream it, though," I said.
"If L. gets his new room, then I can get the house I drew," T. said, with that special logic that belongs only to a seven-year old, who feels her brother just might be getting the better end of things.
"Yes you can," I told her.
Because it can't be that hard to do, can it?