Every Child Needs a Special Secret Spot

September 17, 2013

Out of the blue tonight, I remembered a place in my parents' home that was so very special when I was growing up. It brought an incredible rush of emotion, all positive.

I have absolutely no idea was precipitated this train of thought, for I have not thought about it forever. But I can not let it go. It feels so good thinking about it. And what was this place? It was my 'Hobbit Hole', to steal a concept from J. R. R. Tolkein- that one place in the house that always felt warm and mine. It was the place I went to when I just needed to be me.

And where was this sacred place... this place of solitude? It was behind the living room couch, in the space between the couch and the French doors that lead to the back yard. The doors were glass and faced south, so most of the day the sun streamed in and warmed the rug... just the best.

Now this might seem a trite topic to many, but I want you to think back to your own childhood. Did you not have a small special place where you felt protected. A place where you felt more grown up because you were alone, and most of all a place of quiet- a place with no rules or any need for them.

I have often asked my friends where, as adults, they go for solace. Their answers varied from my bathtub to the corner of my garden to the swings in the neighbourhood park. But , interestingly enough, after some amazement at my question, everyone always had an answer.

I believe that this is a very important concept for parents and caregivers of children to understand. and obviously this is not applicable to children under three, where vigilance equals safety. Allow your children to find their secret spot... give them a chance to have a little time alone.

That is why I have always loved those little tents and tunnels that you can buy for in doors, for when the children are in them they feel like they are hiding... they feel apart. And that is good.

Out of love we hover, we tend, we fix, we cater. But we need to encourage some alone and quiet time by proving opportunities- a big floor cushion in the corner of the room, furniture not tight to the wall, small spaces easily accessible. And we can not direct children to these spaces, they need to discover them for themselves. Therein lies the real joy.

Tolkein opens his novel "The Hobbit" this way,

"In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort."

We all need this!