The Reading Porch

Living in a small house means a little less privacy. Since buying our little house, we’ve had to reconfigure the way we live together as a family. For instance, three of our kids now share one bedroom, so there is no such thing as anyone here being alone in my room.

Most evenings, we are in our living room, doing a variety of things: homework, catching up on shows, knitting, practicing instruments. I like the way our family time is more concentrated in the small house. In some ways, our physical proximity causes some obstacles: Can you turn off your music? I’m trying to read. Or, Can you stop practicing? I’m trying to listen to my show. But I’ve watched my kids get better at communicating with each other as they work around the problems that arise. They are getting better at offering compromises, and seeing things from the other’s point of view. This show ends at 8:30. Can you wait and practice when it’s over?

For this reason, the best room in the house is just off the living room, in the back. I call it the Reading Porch, because that’s what I like to do back here. But it’s also the Writing Porch, the Homework Porch, the Mommy-and-Daddy-Have-to-Have-a-Private-Conversation Porch. The light streams in during late afternoon. On summer evenings, the windows are all flung open to allow in the warm breeze and the sound of crickets and cicadas. In the Fall, we turn on our little heater and warm our feet and wrap ourselves in a blanket. The fact that it’s not really weatherized is what makes it special: Sometimes it’s too cold out there during winter. Then, we can only look through the sliding glass door and look at it longingly, hoping for a warmer day.

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There’s an autumn chill in the air today, but the Reading Porch is still warm and cozy, which is why I’m out here instead of doing adulty things like errands or laundry. Those things can wait. It’s quiet out here, and I have a few chapters I’ve been wanting to read …

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