Thinking Chair


Hannah sometimes comes home from school ticking off a list of kids who had to sit in the Thinking Chair that day.  She tells me who the offender was, what they did, how they reacted and how she promises she’ll Never Ever have to sit in the dreaded Thinking Chair.  The “Chair” is the consequence for a child’s third offense in a day.  First offense the child is given a verbal warning.  Second offense, the child gets her name written on the blackboard for all to see.  And if a third offense occurs, the child is directed to a small blue chair, off in the corner of the room to sit.  Alone.  To think.  Alone.  Until the teacher feels the child has learned her lesson.

Many of us have our version of the Thinking Chair in our house.  We have a “naughty step” where Hannah and Luke are sent when I just can’t bare to look at them anymore after they’ve been behaving horrendously.   For Hannah it’s the top step of the stairs. For Luke it’s the third from the bottom.  (Don’t Ask.) Unfortunately for me, he actually LIKES to sit on the step.  He sits with his hands in his lap with a silly grin on his face shouting, “HI Mommy!” while I try to keep a stern angry look on my face and wag my finger at him shouting, “You STAY there for a whole two minutes until you can LISTEN!”.  “Oh Tay Mommy”, he usually says, happily sitting, swinging his feet.”

The Thinking Chair in my house really doesn’t work.  Hannah spends the whole time screaming, not thinking.  Luke thinks it’s a game and certainly doesn’t Think for even a millisecond while he’s there.  This is why the top step and third step from the bottom have done nothing recently but gather dust.


I have a Thinking Chair of my own in my house.

I don’t use it as a place to sit when I’ve been naughty.  Instead it really is the chair that I find myself doing the most thinking.  It sits in the corner of Luke’s room.  It’s blue and white gingham, extra wide and overstuffed.  It reclines and it glides.  I spent months nursing Luke in this chair. Months sleeping with him in this chair. More months sleeping on my own in the chair while he struggled to sleep in his crib.  I’ve read him countless tractor, truck and car books in this chair and I’ve sung him thousands of lullabies from this chair.

But the times I cherish most in this chair are the minutes I just sit in his dimly lit room.  Shadows on the wall cast from the tiny nightlight in the opposite corner.  I can only hear the Waterfall soothing sound coming from his sound machine as it blocks out most other sounds coming from downstairs or even next door in Hannah’s room.  I sit comfortably in the dark quiet and watch Luke’s little feet tap each reachable bar of his crib, a routine he’s recently started before he falls asleep.  I watch him softly stroke his blankies with the palm of his hand.  The back of his hand. The palm of his hand.  He sucks on one corner of the blanket while his hand caresses it.  Before he drifts off to sleep he lifts his head off the mattress to make sure I’m still sitting there and then quietly whispers, “nigh nigh mommy”. I know that’s my cue that I can leave.

But I stay.

And I think.  I think without distractions.  Without my phone blinking by my side.  Without the TV disturbances.  Without Hannah Needing anything from me.  I think about the day.  And yesterday. And tomorrow.  Lots of tomorrows.  I clear my head.  I have a chance to remember details. Flip through pictures in my head of things that have happened. Are happening.  I’ve shed a few tears in that chair.  And no one has known.  I’ve breathed deep sighs.  With no one asking me, “What’s wrong?”.  I’ve dreamed.  And smiled at those dreams.  Being able to totally appreciate them with no one telling me I’m being silly.

I love that chair.  That space. I love that I share it with Luke.  Although he has no idea. I always wish I could stay a few more minutes.  To breathe in the quiet. The darkness.  The sound of his slowed breathing.  But I fear waking him as I sneak out.

And the fact that it is a place I cannot sit for long makes it that much more special.  Helps me appreciate it.

Everyone needs a Thinking Chair.  For me it’s a Good place to sit.  And I’d like to be sent there Any Time.




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16 responses to “Thinking Chair

  1. Jen

    Beautiful post.

    I do not have a thinking chair. 😦

  2. I’m kind of taken aback that the “thinking chair” is being used like that in class. I get the idea of going to sit and think about what happened and whatnot… but I feel like sitting in quiet and thinking shouldn’t hold a negative connotation, you know?

  3. I agree, Becca. We all need a thinking chair. I love that yours is somewhere that you treasure, that brings you comfort…I need one of those…

  4. ck

    That was such a beautiful post. Often I think of my time as a mom of little kids as a “thinking chair.” When I’m able to observe it as calmly as you wrote about, I never want to leave it, either.

  5. This was beautiful. Your love for Luke just radiates out of it; your appreciation of his unique temperament and your realization that just being there with him in that room means so much to the little guy (and you).

  6. So so lovely! I have a chair like that too. It was in both my children’s nurseries and I nursed them to sleep. I still read to my youngest each night before he goes to bed. My husband bought it for me as a reading chair before my children were born. It’s just all around special. I’ll never part with it. But do you know, I rarely take long moments to sit and think in it. I havent’ done that in a long, long time. I should make more of a habit of it!

  7. Really lovely, Becca. I’m inspired to find my own thinking chair. Someplace other than the driver’s seat of my car, that is. Thanks for this inspiration.

    PS – Make sure Hannah knows that even if she does get put in the Thinking Chair it isn’t the end of the world. I think my 1st grade year got a lot less stressful when I finally had to write my name in the “No-No Box” and realized it didn’t kill me. 🙂

  8. Lovely. I don’t have a ‘thinking chair’. I should, though. Some place where I can just unconnect, and think. Without the computer, phone, TV.

  9. I agree with Corinne, I cringe at how the thinking chair is being used in Hannah’s classroom. I think kids her age can shame themselves without too much help.

    On another note, I really like your idea of a thinking chair. I think my thinking chair is my bed. That’s where I nursed and slept next to Andrew and Emily for the first 6 months of their lives. It’s where I stayed while they slept because I was fearful of waking them. It’s where I pondered. Exactly how you describe your chair. It still works even if I am lying vertical rather than sitting up, right?

  10. I long for a room that is all my own. Where no one else is allowed. Ever. Where there is a chair just waiting for me. To sit in. And think in. And scribble down words. And read books. The irony is that I kinda sorta do have a room to my own now. But the kids come and go and the noise is hard to block out. So maybe what I really want is time. Alone. To think. And be still. I find it really hard to use the time that I DO have wisely. I never feel like there is enough of it, you know?

    Ok. Rambling.
    But I hear you. On all of it. The stairs, too. 🙂

  11. Hmm…now you got me “thinking” – I guess I have one too and it’s the glider in Little Miss’ room. However, it’s not as cute as the one you described. In fact we purchased it because it was on sale and I have to admit, it goes with nothing in the room! Ugh. But those moments I share there with her? Magic.

    Now she likes to be tucked into her twin bed and she requests, “Mommy sit in the chair?” so I sit and rock in the dark for a few minutes before I leave her to fall asleep. Sometimes I sing, sometimes we’re quiet, but mostly, I just enjoy being in there, relishing the closeness with my daughter. Also sadly knowing that the next time I see her on weeknights is 22 hours later…

    BTW, I left you a little something on my blog – do check it out when you get the chance 🙂

  12. I have a thinking chair too. Only it’s not in my house. It’s the driver’s seat in our little truck. We have four kids, and since all four of them don’t fit in that vehicle we trade as we go. Whoever has the kids has the van, the other drives the truck. So I mostly only drive the truck to and from work a couple of times a week. But those minutes. I cherish them, the quiet, the clarity, the no internet, no kids, no distractions.

    Yep, everyone needs a Thinking Chair.

  13. My “thinking chair” too is the chair in the corner of my son’s room. So many worries, conflicts, drama, and memories have been reflected upon in that chair.
    Sometimes I wish life could be as simple as it seems when I sit in that chair.
    Beautiful post.

  14. I always had a rocker in my kids’ nurseries, but I never used it, especially for the reflection and contentment you describe. I wish I had taken more time for that.

    I guess my thinking chair is the couch … where I don’t have to do any thinking at all! =>

  15. I wish I had a thinking chair. The only time I’m really alone with my thoughts without something else stealing my attention is when I’m out walking (without children). To sit and think sounds heavenly.

  16. twin beds are great specially if the space in your room is not that large .

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