Thursday, 07 October 2021 13:41

Nobody's Spot but Mine

By Katherine Morna Towne | Families Today
Nobody's Spot but Mine

There is a thing that I’m constantly dealing with, and I have to admit that I have no idea what the right answer is. Or not even the “right” answer, just the fairest and most peaceful one. I absolutely believe that being firm and consistent is the best way in most parenting situations, but with this I’ve been unsure and inconsistent, which I’m sure is one of the reasons it continues and continues and continues. It has to do with one’s Spot on the Couch.

We were blessed a few years ago to be able to get a sectional sofa for our TV room (the room where the most people want to sit at one time) to add to the regular couch we already had in there, so between the two pieces of furniture, there’s enough spots for everyone. If you figure one seat cushion for each person, and there are six cushions on the sectional and three on the couch, then all nine of us can, in theory, sit together all at once with no problem.

Except: The middle cushion spot on the couch is where one of my younger boys has always been most comfortable, and since that was a thing that started when he was just a baby, and having him sit there meant less crying, it has basically become “his spot.” As he’s gotten older, it’s been less and less necessary, but even still, when he sees someone sitting there, he’s likely to screech about someone sitting in his spot, and because I hate screeching, I tell whoever’s in the spot to get out of the spot. It makes it sound like I allow people to have their very own spot.

Except: In the beginning, when we first got the sectional and everyone wanted to claim spots on it, I specifically and vehemently said that there were no “spots.” No one had any claim to any part of that sofa, or the other couch (except that younger boy who sometimes still needs the middle cushion spot to keep me sane). Making this clear was necessary for a few reasons: (1) so that none of the boys had any expectations about being able to sit where they wanted whenever they wanted no matter what; and (2) in order to try to head off issues surrounding the Leaving of a Spot. 

This latter point has to do with short-term leavings (like when a boy has to get up to go to the bathroom but is coming right back), as well as long-term leavings (like when a boy gets up to go outside and play). Short-term leavings are pretty cut-and-dry, as far as I’m concerned — if someone gets up to go to the bathroom, it’s reasonable to say that no one can jump in that spot while they’re gone. I would have thought that long-term leavings would also be fairly straightforward — it doesn’t seem reasonable to me at all to think that if you get up and go outside to play for an hour, that you can come back in and demand that whoever is now sitting in the spot you were in when you left an hour to go to do something else should get up and let you sit there again. But my kids seem to think they can! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to intervene when two of them are fighting over a spot and one of them is saying it’s “his spot” because he was sitting there earlier in the day. What?! No.

Except: If my husband or I tell a boy to get up and do something — a chore, for example — then it doesn’t matter how long he’s gone, I do allow him to have his spot back when he’s finished. There are also the times when a boy gets up to a do voluntary leaving (like to play outside) and as soon as his rear end leaves the seat, another boy jumps into it gleefully and boasts about getting the spot — I’m not okay with that at all, and in those instances, I’ll usually tell that second boy to get out of the spot. 

“But Mom! You said there are no spots!” they’ll say from time to time when I’ve decided that a boy can go back to the spot he was in before, or when I tell someone to get out of the middle spot so my younger boy can sit there, and I’m always struck by how ridiculous it is that we have to have a rule like this, and that there are so many exceptions and considerations. 

Are you exhausted yet? I am, just writing about it! It’s absolutely why I’m coming across as unsure and inconsistent — because there just doesn’t seem to be a blanket rule that’s fair all the time in every situation for every child, and I’m very tired of having to think about it. 

One thing I do stick to in regard to the couches, though, with the firmest of firmnesses and the most consistent of consistencies, is that when we have company and I’d like for them to have the nicest spot to sit, or — even worse! — my husband or I would like to sit or lay down on the whatever piece of furniture we’ve decided we want to be on, whoever’s in the spot has to move. I’m sure you can imagine the howling and protestations that go on over that! But I’m fully confident that this is one rule that must stand. Poor kids.

Kate and her husband have seven sons ages 17, 15, 13, 11, 9, 7, and 3. Follow her at, or email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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