The other night, Sweet Funny Extra observed, "Your household is so communal. It's like none of you own anything." He went on to explain what his life was like: a bedroom of his own, with his own bed, his own blankets, his own desk, his own clothes hanging in his own closet, his own stuff on his own shelves. He is amused by the way my boys will just grab any pair of mittens or hat, socks or scarf.
My daughter does have her own room, even though it's tiny. Well, it's sort of her own room. With-a-Why sleeps in her bed on school nights, mainly because he needs to go to sleep earlier than his two older brothers. And Blonde Niece uses her room when she is here on weekends. And I do store stuff in her closet even though she complains about it. And her room is the only place where I can set up the massage table if I want to do reiki or massage, since the room I share with Spouse has space for a bed and not much else.
My boys are used to sharing everything with each other and with our extras. And most of the time, they are fine with this method of living. I don't think any of my boys would even want his own room. My kids have always slept piled together like a litter of kittens.
But sometimes – every once in a while – it's nice for one of my boys to have something of his own. Something he does not have to share.
Every year on his birthday, my mother brings Shaggy Hair Boy a homemade apple pie, a special treat that he is not obligated to share with anyone. We all love my mother’s apple pies – she puts in just the right amount of sugar with the apples so that the taste will be both tart and sweet, and her crust is famous. And Shaggy Hair Boy delights each year in torturing us with his birthday pie.
He will cut a piece right before supper time, just when I am the hungriest, and eat it slowly, savoring each bite, sitting close enough to me on the couch that I can smell the apple and cinnamon. And when I am eating breakfast – some kind of stupid healthy cereal with soy milk – he'll sit down with a piece of pie and a steaming mug of cocoa. Sometimes he'll walk around the room with his plate just to be sure he has an audience before he even takes a bite.
This year we all tried to manipulate him into giving us some. "Can I just lick the crumbs from the plate?" I begged shamelessly. Boy in Black tried to play into his adolescent nature, "How about you give me a piece just to spite Mom?" But Shaggy Hair Boy did not budge. He ate the whole pie himself, one piece at a time, making each piece last as long as he could. Within 24 hours, it was gone.
I know how important it is for Shaggy Hair Boy to have something that is all his own. As he savored each bite of pie, he tossed his long curls in the casual manner of a cool fifteen-year-old, but the smile on his face – he has always been an expressive kid – showed how much he was enjoying this opportunity to gloat. Like him, I'm the third child born in my own family so I understand completely.
But I'm glad his birthday only comes once each year.