8 In Thoughts & Observations

Who Says You Can’t Sleep In The Closet?


Kids are cool.

Yes, they leave sticky popsicle trails along my hardwood floors.  Yes, they smuggle cookies and chips from the pantry when I’m not looking.  And, of course, they contribute to my ever-growing mountain of laundry by wearing three different outfits apiece each day.  But they’re still cool.

Mine are still under the age of ten and brimming with innocence–and I love that.  Sometimes I feel their simplicity like sunshine on a cool spring morning, not quite enough to cut through the chill of real-life, but enough to make it bearable.  Other times it sweeps in and obliterates the restrictions of adulthood and sucks me into an alternate dimension.  They balance me and make the rat race worth living.

Let me ‘splain.

A few months ago, the family and I were doing the normal Friday night routine–me in my writing nook and papa bear in his man cave–when I realized the girls had left me alone with my words for an extraordinary length of time.  (Interpretation:  This can’t be good.)

So, I found a good stopping point in my manuscript and started following the path of destruction through the house.  Crayons and coloring books out on the desk.  The oldest’s latest recycle bin art project–held together with an entire roll of Scotch tape.  An open bag of salt and vinegar chips.  The Hello Kitty blanket strung between two barstools.

By the time I got upstairs, I still hadn’t found them and my oh-shit-o-meter was creeping to dangerous levels.

The lights were off in their room, so I kept going, headed to my room.  I had visions of the littlest one neck-deep in my makeup case dolled up like Tammy Faye Baker or the oldest creating an artistic masterpiece made of acrylic paint and my finest sheet set.


I still didn’t find them.

I headed back toward the stairs and yelled over the railing.  “Vic, have you seen the girls?”

No response from the man cave, but I did catch a tiny duet of giggles….coming from their dark bedroom.

I crept inside, careful not to let the hardwoods squeak.  (Sometimes it’s better to catch them red-handed.)

More with the giggles.

I followed the sounds and realized they were in the closet, lights out, little flashlight beams streaming beneath the closed doors.

It wasn’t until I flipped on the light that I realized the complexity of their most recent escapade.  

They’d piled every stuffy and pillow pet they own at the base of their toy closet to form a mini bed then covered it with a bunch of chenille blankets.  Each were armed with flashlights and books, juice boxes and fruit snacks as rations on the shelves.  (Smart move, IMHO.  One never knows when one will need sustenance.)

Indoor closet camping at its finest.

Indoor closet camping at its finest.

They giggled at me, snuggled down in their soft cocoon, brandishing their flashlights.  “Can we sleep in here tonight?”

“No, you can’t sleep in the closet!” I said.  “Who the heck sleeps in the closet?”

“Come on, mom.  It’ll be fun.”

I walked away and went to get the hubby.  Some things just had to be seen to be believed.

Then I stopped.

Why the hell couldn’t they sleep in the closet?

I strode back and took another look at them.  “Ok.  You can sleep in the closet.”

Their happy cheers almost knocked me over.  You’d have thought I’d just given them free reign at  Build-A-Bear.  And yes, they slept in there the whole night.  The mere thought of sleeping on their haphazard bed made my back ache, but they were thrilled.  And, for a brief moment in time, I felt their pleasure,  hoping their night of camping would set up roots in their memory.  It sure as heck planted in mine.

What about you?  Have the children in your life sparked your creativity?  Eased some of the real-life grime from your veneer with their innocent joy?  I’d love to hear your stories.

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  • Reply
    CJ Burright
    May 24, 2013 at 11:38 am

    My daughter is a HS senior this year, and last night I got sucked into a year-end school thing (alone – husband found valid excuse, the rat) due to a note from the teacher that sternly said “parents are expected to attend.” Sigh. This was a final for a class entitled Society and Nature, and I fully expected a slideshow of the hiking trips they took. Yes, the slideshow was there, but then I was blindsided. All the students had to sit in a circle in the center of the room and pass the “talking” rock around and speak, one by one. The first question was easy-peasy: How do you feel as a senior. I was sitting there thinking “how long will this take?” and then the teacher asked the students a second question: explain how your parents or support people have been there for you in the last 18 years. I steeled myself not to tear up, but there were some poignant stories. Some kids were raised by single moms, some had been in trouble and expressed their gratitude to their parents for being strict and sticking by them through everything. My daughter (so like me), kept it short and sweet (thank God!), but I loved one thing she said “I especially like how my mom thinks I’m funny.” She totally is. Then, the teacher hit us with a whammy and made us stand up in front of everyone and say something about our kids. Now, I have no problem talking about my daughter, since she’s the best daughter ever (which is exactly what I said), but I’m quiet and I loathe being the center of attention. I had some choice mental words for my husband at that point for making me deal with this awkward moment alone. But it was worth it to hear my daughter say after my heart-hammering spiel, “love you, mom.”

    • Reply
      May 24, 2013 at 1:36 pm

      Omigosh, girl! You made me get all teary. So special!

  • Reply
    Christine AShworth
    May 24, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    It’s been a long time since my kids were little and so innocent (they’re 19 and 22 now). But long ago, when the first born was just over 2 and the baby still inside me, he and the hubby made rose parade floats with rosepetals from our garden. And he drove that tissue box covered in ivy and rose petals like a car, and loved it so much until it fell apart a few days later. I treasure that memory.

    Great post, Rhenna!

    • Reply
      May 24, 2013 at 1:38 pm

      The stuff they come up with amazes me! I’m not much in the way of keepsakes, but I’ve got a vault full of great memories! Sounds like you do too!

  • Reply
    Karen McFarland
    May 24, 2013 at 6:17 pm

    Aw. Rhenna, my two boys are now 32 and 33 now. I sure miss the giggles. That story is so precious. I know the automatic mom in us says no, but I’m so glad you changed your mind. They’ll remember this for a long time to come. Just as a side note, I have a girlfriend who likes to sleep in her closet and she’s older than me. lol. I think I must try it some time. You never know. It might just help me sleep better. Enjoy the memories. Your girls sound like gems! 🙂

  • Reply
    Susan Spess Shay
    May 25, 2013 at 8:58 am

    I have three boys who couldn’t be more different if they’d all had different fathers. (They didn’t.) #1 is five years older than #2, who is 2 1/2 years older than #3.
    #1 is very computerly and electronically inclined. When they were about 12, 7 and 5, they got hold of our video camera and made a commercial, selling Fart Mufflers. (Kitchen chair cushions.)
    I laugh until I cry every time we watch it.
    Enjoy your time with your kiddos. It’s more precious than gold . . . or even a publishing contract.
    BTW: One of my kiddos got lost one evening. I looked up and he wasn’t in the family room with us. When I called him, he didn’t answer. I searched the house, no kiddo. I went outside in the DARK, all the way around the house, to the fort, even the cars. No kid.
    I decided to give the house one more search before I called the neighbors and/or the cops. I looked behind every chair, every couch, under every bed and in every closet.
    That’s when I found him, in his brother’s closet where he’d been playing with some of the brother’s toys and had fallen asleep.
    No wonder mothers turn gray. 🙂

  • Reply
    Maggie Amada
    May 25, 2013 at 9:12 am

    My daughters are three and four. They pretty much have free reign of my entire household. I used to have a nice table in my living room made of light wood and arranged in such a way as to showcase the natural grain of the woods. Now, dubbed the Picasso table, it’s even nicer. The girls have taken it for their own, painted it with splashes of different colors and even glued some jewels on it. Some things come off periodically so they can repaint and some are forever encrusted on the Picasso table. I love it and wouldn’t change it for the world.

  • Reply
    Kim Cleary
    May 27, 2013 at 4:52 am

    I don’t have children unfortunately, but I loved your story! I adore young ones – agree with you wholeheartedly about their innocence brimming over and bringing sunshine into our days. So precious 🙂

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