On biracial children and being a girl

House/parenting/privacy/interior design dilemma. So, like, THE WORST KIND.

I have a post brewing re: How To Intentionally and Positively Address Well-Meaning Comments On My Biracial Kids' Appearances but in the meantime! I have a problem. I didn't think I would have this problem for a while, but it's been popping up here and there, with more frequency as the days go by, and I DO NOT HAVE A SOLUTION.

In short: Jackson would like his privacy, please. BLARGH.

A while back the child who happily and persistently walked in on his parents' showers decided absolutely no one could be anywhere near the vicinity when he went to relieve himself. FINE. We don't want to be around ANYWAY. He didn't say anything about baths - possibly because bathtime at Chez Cheung is more like Fun With Water than Actual Bathing and it's more fun to get every single available surface soaking wet with a partner in crime. But just recently he's been preferring showers to baths with his sister(s) (again: FINE) and more often than not showering by himself in the family changing room after swim lessons. (SUPER FINE.) 

But NOOOOOOW just changing clothes is becoming an issue. A big one, since they share a room. Obviously I expected it to become an issue, but I kind of hoped to know what to do about it when it came up. And I don't. Molly appears to care not at all and that may be because she's a year younger or maybe because she's infinitely less fastidious and nitpicky than her brother. I would LIKE to split them up, I would be HAPPY to split them up, I am OVERJOYED at the prospect of big kids who tend to their own personal hygiene. HOWEVER!

My house is stupid. We bought it knowing it was stupid. WE KNEW this would be an issue. We have four bedrooms, but two are on the top (main) floor and two are on the bottom. Each floor has a (large) bathroom. So when we first moved in, Phillip and I took what seemed to be the master bedroom on the main floor and Jack and Molly shared the smallest bedroom, the second one on the main floor. When Emma was born and ready to move into her own space, we moved Jack and Molly into one bedroom on the bottom floor. So Emma, Phillip, and I sleep on the 2nd (main) floor, Jack and Molly share the back bedroom on the 1st floor. The 4th bedroom is huge, has a huge walk in closet, and an entrance to the 1st floor bathroom, but right now it's home to a full bed, a twin bed, a pack 'n play, and Phillip's desk and Assorted Phillip Stuff. So it's busy right now. We often have overnight guests (mostly family), my niece naps there when I babysit, Phillip needs an office space with a door, and the closet is great and much needed storage. 

The PLAN was to have Jack and Molly's room turn into Just Jack's Bedroom and Molly and Emma would share the other big bedroom downstairs with the big closet and the bathroom. I can easily picture three teenagers sharing that space, turning the playroom into a TV/computer room, staying out of MY bathroom. You know? And if it really wouldn't work to have Molly and Emma share, then Emma could move back upstairs and Phillip would have to work in the playroom or something. We'd figure it out. 

But right now that is not an option, and not just because we're using the guest room as a guest room so often. Emma's just not big enough to sleep on another floor from her parents. Or at least I don't feel comfortable with it. It's hard enough having my 6- and nearly 5-year-olds down there. (Though it's worked out well, thank goodness.) And I'm not sure how it would go with her sharing a room and I don't even want to GO there. 

What's also clear is that Jack isn't ready to sleep downstairs by himself. His room is pretty far from ours and I totally understand feeling nervous by himself down there. (HOUSE = STUPID.) It's possible to squeeze Molly into Emma's room, but the few times I've asked Jack if he wants his own room, he only wants it on the condition that Molly is also sleeping downstairs. 


I am not entirely sure what to do. For now I think I'm content to keep things the way they are and bark at Jack to go change in the bathroom. Maybe when we move Emma out of the crib we can revisit the room situation, but who knows when that will be? I don't WANT that to be soon! 

The only other thing I can think of is moving Molly into the PLAYroom. You have to walk through the playroom to get to J and M's current bedroom. But they are two separate spaces and they both have doors and maybe that could work. Although it would be annoying. I just reorganized that playroom! 

But the other day Jack asked me if he could have a box for his things, ie: the loads of papers he wants to keep. This kid has so many PAPERS. Phillip had just recycled all our cardboard so I didn't have anything lying around, but OH, I underSTOOD! This was when I decided I had to buy my son a filing cabinet, just like my parents did for me. And I want to get him a desk. HIS OWN DESK. It's not that we don't have anywhere else to do homework or projects, or that I want him to do all his homework in his room, but there is something about your OWN DESK. With your own drawer of pencils and office supplies. With your papers neatly stacked. I GET this kid, is what I'm saying, and he will LOVE his own room and his own desk and his own filing system and I WANT THAT FOR HIM. 

On one hand this is not a big deal. Plenty of families live in ONE ROOM. Starving children in Africa, etc.! On the other hand I have heaps of empathy for that dawning realization that you need your privacy. And on the THIRD hand I am ALWAYS itchy to fix up my house the way it is always supposed to be, forever and ever Amen. (Which is not logical, I know this, but I have never claimed to BE logical.) 

I could bunk their beds again... that would make a ton of space for desks and filing cabinets... SIIIIGHHHH

Anyone else? When did you decide the boy and the girl were no longer sharing a room?



FWIW, all of my kids are upstairs (even P!) and we are downstairs and while they DO sometimes feel Very Far Away, this is kind of the situation baby monitors were invented for (for me, anyway). I am fine with it and I get a great deal of satisfaction out of the whole, "everyone has their own space for their own things and their own time-outs and THE END on musical sleeping arrangements for us."

Maybe put Jack and Molly downstairs and make heavy use of baby monitors at first? And then Emma can join M when she/you are ready? And Jack can just sleep in another room (perhaps go ahead and get the bunks set up) when there's a guest?

(This is what we make Claire do and it's no big thing.) And then you can use your house to its full space advantage, every day, NOW instead of LATER (this was also a big deal to me, I don't like "wasted" or "in waiting" rooms and I FINALLY don't have any WOO WOO WOOOOOO!)


My parents split my brother and I up when I was 8 and he was 5. I hated sharing a room with him because he was messy. But we did move to a bigger house at that point in time, so it was an easy decision. We'll probably split up E and V around that time, but it will involve a bunch of remodeling and I have yet to find a money tree in our yard, so I don't really know.

and I'm looking forward to your other post. I've been thinking a lot about it since I saw your tweet. I myself am guilty of calling V Chinese and E white (and not thinking much of it since I don't see either as better)(and I honestly think of them that way a lot of the time, although I do spend time discussing that they are Chinese like Daddy and Grandma and Grandpa and are also white like Mommy and Nana and Poppy) but I haven't stopped to think about it in terms of what they are taking in. Very thought-provoking.

Darn you, Maggie Cheung! Now my brain is full of ethnicity questioning and privacy and where are the kids going to sleep in two years! And it's TOO HOT TO BE THINKING SERIOUS THOUGHTS. :)

 Dr. Maureen

We were lucky because the split happened naturally when we moved downstairs. But we are still not at our final arrangement because I'd prefer all the bedrooms to be actual bedrooms (right now our bedroom is really a living room), but that would mean two bedrooms would be upstairs and two down. Since downstairs is actually a completely separate apartment, that's definitely not OK.

So this is all to say, I have no idea what your solution is. It's a tough one.


Thanks for this post Maggie...we have 3 with a fourth on the way. Right now all 4 bedrooms are upstairs (a newer home but my next I think I want the master on the main floor when all the kids are older!) and each of the 3 kids has their own room and share a bathroom. If all goes well, baby will sleep with me for awhile but either way if it is a girl we will be bunking up baby and my daughter or if it's a boy bunking up the 2 boys together. Not sure with all the furniture how this is gonna work!

So anyway, my kids have never shared a room and though it is awhile away I am wondering how it is gonna work! I will say video monitors are a lifesaver though so far.

I agree with earlier comments, maybe move E in with M when she is ready and let the big kids have their own rooms and use monitors for awhile or bunk beds. I can't wait to hear others comments who have more experience with room sharing!


Is there anyway you could put a temporary divider in their room to get Jack some privacy? And then set up 'Jack's office' (hee) somewhere else in the house?

I think the layout of your house sounds quirky but really really cool and I can see how in just a few years it will seem just right. You will get there!

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