Roommate Relations Just for kids

Kid News

November 19, 1998|By Candace Purdom | Candace Purdom,Chicago Tribune

Last summer's pool pass.

Three dirty socks.

One wrinkled shirt.

Two old vocab tests.

One linty superball.

OK, the pool pass and one sock are yours, but the rest of this junk under your bed? It's your roommate's - you know, the sloppy kid who sleeps in that other bed across the room? Yeah, the one who happens to be your A) brother or B) sister.

For sibling roommates, sharing messes, space, music and walls just goes with the territory (even if it feels as if that territory is only 3 square feet!). Good or bad, you're in this together. Can you both live happily ever after?

Maria S., and sister Cathy, share a room - and the girls aren't thrilled. "My sister takes over, and she snores too much," Maria says. "We fight all the time."

Nick Z. complains that brother Ryan wears his Adidas pants. Another problem? "I stay up a lot later than him and he gets mad when I come in and turn the light on." And there's Ryan's nasty alarm clock! "It buzzes for a long time, and I don't have to get up when he does."

Not that Ryan is smiling either! With the closet and dressers on his side, he gets most messes. "Nick just leaves stuff all over," Ryan says. "He can't keep things in one place."

Sharing a room can be touchy, agrees Chet Witek, who runs the Interior Design program at the College of DuPage in Illinois. But "it's important that kids have their own spaces and that they are able to express their own individuality." Here's help:

* Try a bead curtain as a funky divider. Pick these up at stores or create them yourself by stringing beads or other lightweight objects (like pine cones or fuzzy pom-pon fringe). Even a narrow curtain can identify your own little nook. And get your roomie to help (after all, guess who else gets space on the other side of the curtain?).

* "Think vertically," Witek says. Each roommate can have racks, shelves, bins, hammocks for stuffed animals, bulletin boards and other holders mounted on their wall. With a parent's help, add a loft - like a jumbo shelf where you can stretch out. Or get some "grab bars" from a home improvement store, and make your own climbing wall to "hang out" on your side of the room.

* Brighten up your space with unusual lighting. Florescent-type lights can be slipped in colored plexi-glass tubes and used to jazz up and identify space. Christmas-type lights can work too. Again, Witek stresses asking parents for help.

* All this separation stuff can get frustrating. Witek says it's cooler to combine your interests in funny ways. Let's say you like ballet and your sister raves about outer space. Try thinking "Ballet Dancers in Space" and see what ideas pop up. Or if you like sports and your brother likes animals, use team colors on the walls and add the animals associated with favorite teams. "Use the connections rather than the differences in your interests," Witek suggests.

1997 Chicago Tribune. Distributed by Knight-Ridder/Tribune, Inc.

Pub Date: 11/19/98

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