Our biggest advocate about moving into the tiny house has been our oldest daughter Kira. Every morning, she wakes up and asks to check the crowdfunding site to see how many books have been sold. She has produced us with concept designs for interior and exterior layouts. There was even that time she attempted to bribe the tooth fairy for funding. However, this week, things took a turn into skeptical-ville.

Kira and Selena built a pretend tiny house.
Kira and Selena built a pretend tiny house.

One of the major themes in the comments that people have left us have been threats of how difficult life will be once our children are teenagers. Well, Kira is definitely knocking on the front door of teenagerhood, and with that comes dramatic highs and lows of emotion. Today, while driving home from an event, she posed a bizarre question:

“Will my room have a ‘real’ bed in it?”

Being a really stupid dad, I walked right into that with my defenses down, not yet fully equipped with the jaded armor of a father who has waded through the battlefield of puberty. I responded to her question with a question, “What is a ‘real’ bed?” And I followed it up with some silly verbal dissertation about what defines a bed in other cultures.

“A bed, dad. You know, a real bed. Like the one I have now.”

Things just got real. Real bed kind of real. I was soon given a 5th grade explanation of what consitutes the reality of furniture, clothing, and other important pre-teen sacred items. What was real about a bed was its awesomeness, a trait that could not be defined, but was none-the-less understood by my daughter. However, it could not translated into my old-man brain, so she wasn’t going to even try to explain herself. At some point, her voice went from sounding like my sweet baby girl, to sounding very much like her mother does when I’ve forgotten to take out the trash and she hasn’t had a properly balanced Snickers Bar.

Kira is skeptical about this tiny house loft...
Kira is skeptical about this tiny house loft…

Right before I began to wonder what the moratorium is on dropping a child off at the Fire Station, I realized that I was framing this all improperly. So I rephrased my question to ask my daughter why it was that she wanted a ‘real’ bed in her tiny room loft. It soon became clear as she broke it all down for me, that the issue boiled down to identity. This wasn’t about bed size or authenticity, this was about Kira wanting to make sure that her character would be maintained.

Our houses speak a great deal about who we are as people. The colors we choose, the side of town they are on, and the knick-knacks we adorn it with, they all are testaments to who we are or where we have come from.

What really excites me about this project is that because of it I was able to have a conversation with my daughter about who she really is, and what story she wants to tell the world. That’s a question we will all be answering during this process.



Nathan Monk is a husband, father, author, and former Orthodox priest who writes about growing up in childhood homelessness, and brings awareness to the social and justice issues related to first world poverty.

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