Monday, May 11, 2009

Cerebral Doings and kid reports

I was looking at the table Holly's using for her computer. It's covered in DVDs (in their cases) and art supplies. In the next room is a computer that Brett uses for playing WoW, and not much more, but it gets use. In the kitchen (often, and now) is my laptop. None of these rooms look "like they're supposed to," designer-wise, magazine-photo-wise. When Keith and I were first together we were more often out of the house than in, and the house was sewing room, office, workshop, books, patterns. We joked that we were living like grad students, and that someday we wouldn't. Then later we were living like parents of young children, and then we were living like unschoolers, but I think the thing is we were not living like people whose houses were decorated for magazine shoots.

Sometimes parents argue about the state of "beauty" of the house, but probably all of us know tales of children living in houses they couldn't play in, with tables they couldn't put anything on, with carpets they couldn't eat or play on, maybe couldn't even walk on barefooted. The purpose of a house is rarely considered. Pioneers' houses were shelter from wild animals and from weather. A place to store food. Some houses are intended to one-up the neighbors with the size of the front door or the number of garages, or the size and maintenance of the hedges.

Somewhere between those, most of us dwell. It's worth thinking about what a home is for, and not thinking in other people's words, but in the depth of considerations of what we want now and in ten years and in twenty and thirty years. What memories? What advantages?

Now that my childrens' ages average 20 years old, I garden without regard for their need to dig in the dirt and play hide and seek and sneak through the corners of the yard. When they were little, their use of the yard was primary. I planted some trees, and had morning glories on one fence, and vines on another fence. I kept the weeds pulled and the grass watered. The purpose of the yard then was for children to explore and to live in, not for an old woman to walk around in and to water and to experiment in.

Expectations and behaviors can have arcs, as life changes. Childless couples have fun in different ways than parents. We never considered ourselves homeowners who had unfortunately had children who posed a danger to the house.

What I created with a computer when I had a Kaypro II and a daisy wheel printer was paper, taken to a printer to turn into more paper. Now it's rare that I hit "print." Now I put words and ideas and pictures in where others can share them without waiting for paper to arrive in the mail. My children will be able to get to them someday, and not have to decide who gets what and what goes in the trash. What Holly does with her computer is to learn and share, and to amuse her friends. Marty listens to music and watches videos.

Meanwhile, in Texas, Kirby has moved from an apartment which had his computer and his roommate's in the living and dining area, into a house in which each of the four residents has his computer in his bedroom. House usage changed. There are no children there; if there were, it would change again.

Kirby called me for Mother's Day. He said mandatory overtime had just ended, but something else came up, and they're going to offer or encourage overtime. I asked if he was saving enough money aside for an unexpected major car repair, and he said he usually was, but had depleted his savings. I think the expectation of some people would be that what a 22 year old male living with other young males would have spent his money on would have been less responsible than this: "fancy" lawn mower, new couch, and a barbecue.

A few weeks back, Marty was inquiring about the possibility of moving into our old house, and what Keith would charge him in rent. Partly, other friends of his had asked. They're living in an apartment now. After a few casual conversations and some consideration, Keith told Marty he thought it might be too much responsibility for Marty right now, as he was already buying the jeep (and whatever else they discussed; I don't know). Some 20 year olds might have been defensive or upset about a parent saying "You're not old enough" or whatever, but Marty took it as sage advice he should really consider, because it was NOT presented as an insult, but as supportive conversation such as they've been having for Marty's whole life. Antagonism wasn't there.

Because of Mother's Day, Holly worked a LOT last week. I'll talk about her jobs below, but Saturday after she worked all day, she went to a concert. She had bought the ticket online with her own debit card. She drove in our car, but she filled it up with gas with her own money, even though I was standing there with my card out saying "use this." And it wasn't defensiveness or the hope that if it was "her gas" she could use the car more. She can already use it as much as she wants to. It was her wish to contribute.

Holly's friend made this video, and Holly wrote "Waiting in line for Bayside; shadow dancing! This is how I would rock out downtown, if I were that kind of person."

For a while next week, Holly will have five jobs. None are full time; none even necessarily half time, though one or the other of "the real jobs" can spike seasonally. She's doing art and a webpage for friends in Silver City who are buying an art gallery, and over a long Memorial Day weekend, she's feeding dogs at one house, and watering a garden and feeding a cat at another house.

All the stories above involve messes, time, thought, clean-up, priorities and peace. I'm content with our choices.


Heather's Moving Castle said...

aweome!!!!! love your blog!!!! always have. :O)

Alex Polikowsky said...

That is why I havea 425 dollar couch, walls you can write on and my bif formal living room is a kids play room.
We have a house that our kids love and feel happy to live in. Maybe I will show people in a little video someday in my blog. Thanks for the idea!

Alex Polikowsky said...

ooops! I meant $25 dollars !

Renee Cabatic said...

thanks--so true
house=useful tool

Unschoolers Rock the Campground said...

I remember as a teen muttering about not being able to "live" in our livingroom. Certainly not the case here and now!

Tracy Million Simmons said...

This "image" of a home is so much more satisfying than any photo I've ever seen in one of those glossy magazines.

Our house is still full of hand-me-down furniture and I used to always say that someday I would have a house where I had picked all the furniture myself. Maybe it would all match or be my favorite color... but as long as people keep offering to pass stuff on, I guess I'm more content to spend my money elsewhere. And, quite frankly, I love the history of my battered old kitchen/project table.

Sandra Dodd said...

Alex, I figured if you grew up wealthy, a $425 couch might seem disposable. :-) I understood the sentiment in either case!

singingfamily said...

I love this post, one of my favorites and I have been reading you for a long time!

Lori said...

We have a saying in our family, that came to me, through my mother, from her father - that I have passed along to my young adult children for when they have kids. "Are you raising houses, or children?"

It always made me feel better about the general state of disarray of my house, though I was never terribly concerned about it ;-)