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The concept of privacy is a curious one in our household. Our daughters are more preoccupied by this notion than us, the perceived adults. Despite our open door policy, our daughters are surprisingly modest. One in particular is borderline puritanical in her enforcement of personal space and time.

This holiday break we traveled with several other families and shared living space. Although each family had separate rooms and bathrooms, most of the doors did not have working locks. This detail presented repeated moments of unnerving panic for our daughter. Not withstanding our best efforts to block and stand guard by doors while she undressed, bathed, or, God help us, played! — our steel magnolia demanded reassurances her privacy remain intact.

During the week, she kicked each one of us out of the room at least twice, with her brother suffering the brunt of it. After a group vote, she and the other girls decided “girl privacy time” must absolutely be respected. Then it hit them like a ton of bricks.

The idea, so tried and true, so obvious – yet so new! First: pen and paper. After a few false starts, she asked I help her spell “No Boys Allowed!!” The added punctuation, a must. Tape and string was requested for prominent door placement.

It worked. Somehow this sign had the power to stop armies of literate (and illiterate) boys aged 2 – 38.

Since then, she has not stopped writing warning signs and notes. While we appreciate the innovation, I am hopeful the signage will soon adopt a more pleasant tone.


January 7, 2010