During our “official vacation,” which is when Dad doesn’t have to go to work everyday, we discovered garage sales and a new rocking chair for Jeannie.
The rocker was a sturdy little model made of maple. The price was right, and we were fresh out of child-size rocking chairs. Since Jean had never had a chair of her very own, she was declared official owner.
Her eyes danced as she grabbed the chair arms and wrestled it into the house. Her brothers would have helped, but Jean wasn’t interested. “It’s my chair, and I’ll do it myself!”
She put it down in the living room and then surveyed every inch of it, top, bottom, and both sides. Finally she sat in it and began to rock with great satisfaction. Eventually she let the others have a turn.
After their turns she again sat down, and for the rest of the day it was as if her bottom were glued to the seat. When she walked she bent forward, clutching the chair arms and walking like a miniature Groucho Marx. She carried the chair right along with her, seat to seat.
At bedtime she was quite annoyed with me because I wouldn’t let her sleep in the rocker.
A few days later another new chair moved into our house. It was a child-sized webbed lounge chair. Ed, John, Joe, and Jean all looked at it longingly.
Ed decided that he was really too big for it, and “the big lawn chairs are better for us big kids.” Since Jean had a new rocker she couldn’t have the other chair too. That left John and Joe. They decided that they could share the lounge chair.
They surprised me. They didn’t fight over that chair even once. They tried sitting in it together. They decided it wasn’t very comfortable that way because one had to sit half-way on the other one.
So, they alternated. Each time the show changed on television they traded seats between the floor and the new chair. It worked all afternoon, but got a little sticky in the evening when some hour-long shows followed the half-hour ones.
Just about bedtime they asked, “Can we sleep in our new chair tonight?”
I couldn’t say no because the older kids had used the big lawn chairs as cots when they slept out. I couldn’t really say yes either, because it seems like preschool children should sleep in their own beds. So I compromised with a long line about how nice their beds were.
They went to bed, I thought.
When I went up to check a little later I discovered that they had made their own sleeping arrangements. John was asleep in the new lounge chair. Joe was also sound asleep, curled up in a sleeping bag on top of his older brother’s big foot locker.
The next night I again emphasized how lucky they were to be able to sleep in their very own beds. And they again chose to do it their way. However, Joe slept in the lounge chair and John on the foot locker.
When Jean found out that Joe and John slept in their chair she decided that she should be allowed to sleep in her rocking chair. We pointed out that her chair did not lean back to make a cot. She made it quite clear that she didn’t care about such details.
With the help of John and Joe, we managed to convince our 3-year-old daughter she should not sleep all night in her rocker. Instead she took her nap in the little lounge chair.
Now that both of the chairs have been properly used by all the owners they are empty most of the time while the kids play outside or sit on the floor, as usual. Of course they still frequently want to sit in their own chairs—usually all three of them in one chair at the same time.
Kathleen Floyd is a volunteer citizen columnist, who serves The Daily Advocate readers weekly with her columns, Back Around the House and All Around the House. She can be reached at email@example.com. Viewpoints expressed in these opinion pieces are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.