I've Had A-Nerf.
My son has a whole area that is his own and yet his toys and nerf guns are EVERYWHERE IN THE HOUSE. Please help me find a way to get him to keep things IN HIS SPACE. And is that bad of me to want to segregate his stuff to one area? Shouldn’t he feel like he has a presence in his own house?
When you say his “nerf guns are EVERYWHERE in the house,” how many Nerf guns are we talking? Does he really have so many Nerf guns that they could possibly be ALL OVER the house? I have a lot of a lot of things and I would have to work really hard to leave the same kind of thing more than two or three places. Well, except hair rubber bands- I start out with a pack of three hundred of these things and then I suddenly and magically have zero of them, and then even more magically, they do indeed end up all over the house, as well as in pockets I didn’t know I had.
Back to Nerf- and I really want to help you brainstorm this, because if there are literally Nerf guns all over your house, your problem is not whether your son feels “like he has a presence in his own house.” If there are actually Nerf products all over, then you have a problem in one of two areas: your parameters regarding how many Nerf products you are buying your son, or issues with regard to teaching your son where his boundaries begin and end. I can’t help but think you might be exaggerating a skotch and I am perhaps having some fun at your expense, but if in all seriousness, he is leaving his Nerf weapons in too many places, areas that you would like reserved for non-Nerf decor, then just say so. A family home is nothing but communal living and communes are wonderful- until someone sleeps with your husband. In other words, territory matters. Personal space matters. We all need a balance of private space and public space- that’s balance. Having balance at home entails harmonizing areas we share with others, with places we (need to) have all to ourselves.
How about explaining to your son, who I assume is developing a bit of a prefrontal cortex, since he’s also armed for action, that public family space is for everyone, which is “why we try to keep only stuff we all use in the public areas, or at least pick up what we brought in when we leave.” You can show him how the military lives- expected to keep everything ship-shape. You could show him how Julia Child kept her pots and pans organized, with exact outlines marking each pan’s outline to be hung on her pegboard- and do the same for his plastic uzis. You can explain how animals live: how dogs pee everywhere to mark their territory- explain that’s how you feel when he’s emptied his Nerf armory all over the house- that it feels like he’s peed everywhere and it’s not pleasant, because it’s not only his space. He might be delighted to be compared to a wild animal- you know how boys are. Have fun with your explanation, and then mark your own territory with kind requests.
There is a very wide median between control-freak, “no wire hangers” mothering, and “hey sweetie, can you please not do an ammunition dump in our family room? Maybe take your Nerf rifle with you when you leave the room?”
If he refuses to respect your requests, just tell him that for every Nerf bullet you find under a chair or lodged in the sofa, he owes you _____. And just fill in the blank with something he would not be too thrilled about. And good luck with Little Rambo.
Aubrey Thorne is an interior designer, feng shui consultant, and astrologer in Los Angeles. She works with clients all over, both in-person and online. Feel free to contact Aubrey to ask a question or to schedule a consultation.