Posted by: Kate | January 30, 2007

The Magnetism of Doorways

There’s this phenomenon around doorways that happens in my house and amongst my family. I’m considering investment in a flame thrower to discourage continued incidents.

The phenomenon manifests quiet young; almost as soon as the children are mobile. They truck around the house, destructive and happy, and almost nothing can slow them down. Except an open doorway.

In rooms, even those largely constructed around sitting still, they travel and move about until I’m ready to get out the staple gun because so help me if they stand in front of the TV one more time… but in doorways, structures intended for passing through, moving from one spot to another, they stop. Often, abruptly, in a manner that regularly gets them steamrolled over by whichever unfortunate person behind them hasn’t gotten the memo that an unexplained nerve impulse has halted momentum in the small person ahead of them.

Especially if said unfortunate person is carrying a basket of laundry or the sundry bags and paraphernalia that accompany any trip to or from school. Unmatched socks and toddlers scatter everywhere.

It doesn’t only happen in my house. Routinely, when trying to drop Jacob off at daycare, I end up bonking him in the back of the head with a lunchbag or pillowcase because he reaches the threshhold and stops like a deer in headlights. It’s not an unwillingness to be in the new place, I don’t think. It seems more like an effort to survey the new room before committing. But, you know what? That surveying can happen a foot to the left and is a lot less likely to usher in a cold draft or a long line of other parents waiting to bonk their kids in the back of the head.

And, sadly, it’s not only the under-10 set that suffers from this affliction. Our living room and kitchen/dining room are all open-plan, with an 8-foot doorway type thing between. My father loves to stand in this doorway and talk to me while I’m sitting on the couch. Which is fine, except that he talks loud and the sound travels directly down to pound on the sides of my sleeping children’s heads, and the kitchen light is directly behind his head so that I can’t see his face. Not a huge issue, perhaps, but I read lips, but in order to read ’em I have to be able to see ’em. And last night, I babysat a friend’s daughter for a few hours, and when her mom came to pick her up, she also became rooted in the doorway to chat first.

I’m thinking of starting a “Save the Doorways” commercial drive, with pictures of small dirty children with really big eyes being bowled out of the way by people actually trying to use the doorways for transit.



  1. Classic Description! I can totally picture the dogpile in the doorway (complete with toddlers and socks).

    We have the same problem. Maybe I should move the family shoe basket away from the back door because people stop unexpectedly to put on/take off shoes and cause multiple-body pile-ups all the time.

  2. I have SO noticed this since you posted it, Kate. It makes me completely nuts. But now that I know that “Doorway Occupation” along with “Hallway Obstruction” are not just afflictions my own kids fester, I can at least rest a teeny bit more. I wonder if other families’ kids also suffer from “Step On Shit Instead of Picking It Up” and “Spin Mindlessly in the Office Chair”.

  3. Oh, mine do. It’s a horrible affliction. One of my mantras is, “Don’t STEP on THINGS,” which doesn’t get listened to because of its sheer impossibility. Willem has set up the office chair in the corner where we used to have a woodstove – so it’s all concrete on the floor and halfway up the wall. Can’t wait till the kids discover the joy that is spinning and then trying to walk around.

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