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Ode to a door

"I'll be reading in my room" he says and closes the door behind him.

He is fourteen now. Gone are the days when his dream was to sit in one room, on one bed, with all of us huddled together forever.

Enter the days of closed doors.

Teenage years allow us to redefine our relationships with our children, to add new bricks to those beautiful buildings. Teenage years are made for us to listen, observe and offer. Teenage years are also years made for sitting at the edge of the bed listening late into the night (as the bedtimes seem to have turned upside down), for accompanying them as they discover the edges and depths of feelings, for holding our tongue (and breath) as they are passionately disagreeing with what we say.

They are also a time of doors.

Autonomy & boundaries

I want my child to go into the world knowing he can walk out of things, situations and interactions. Knowing that sometimes "no" is what needs to happen. Knowing his voice and his choice matters.

Closing the door he is practising all of that.

Closing physical doors is also a metaphorical and deeply emotional practice. It allows us to know that we can say no, we can leave some things behind, that not everyone is allowed access to us at all times.

Closing these doors my teenage son is learning where he ends and others begin.

Space and time for individuation

Teenage years are a time of transition - walking out of being a child and into adulthood. It's a time of questions and explorations, the biggest one of which is "Who am I?"

How could it be done if you don't have spaces and places that are yours only?

How can it be done if our eyes, opinions and choices are cast over everything?

Closing the doors allows for the time and space needed to grapple with who we are, how we are, who we are not. It allows us for a moment to separate ourselves from all the input, all the voices, all the noise.

Returning and belonging

The doors also open.

The act of closing and opening those doors to teenage rooms is a practice of saying "no" to us, parents, knowing full well that we are and always will be behind those doors. It's a teenage version of peek-a-boo.

Because the other question my teenager (and yours) is grappling with is "Do I belong?"

Do I belong even when I close the doors and grunt when you ask me for something? Do I belong even when my room is not as tidy as you imagine it needs to be? Do I belong when when my emotions take over, when my words are hard to hear?

Do I still belong?

And as we are invited to walk through the doors to what at times feels like Narnia (though with clothes and empty chocolate wrappers instead of snow), this changes into a new kind of dialogue - one where both of us speak from our own place. The teenage one not quite well-defined, shapeshifting daily into something new. Ours perhaps less exciting than they thought it was when they were three and our jokes were uber funny. We are learning a new dance.

When I was growing up the door to my room was a bit broken - it was hard to properly close it, and if you did it could jam.

"Better not close it."

"Gotta fix that."

But they didn't.

Everyone thought they were welcome through that porous entryway.

I have been discovering ways of closing doors as an adult, and cherishing times when I am behind closed doors and the world is on the other side. And as I am defining my own space, I myself feel more defined.

I welcome the doors - both when they're open and when they're closed.

I'm learning to recognize when they're closed in a "I need alone time" kind of way, and when it's more of a "I could use someone here with me".

It's a new kind of dance.

I'm here for that.

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