May ABODE: Your Kids

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Karina Hange’s bedroom functions as a sanctuary, a place where she can relax, get work done and ultimately, be herself by herself. “[My brothers] aren’t really allowed to come into my room. Ever.” (Photo by Cramer Photo)

Karina Hange (15) just got her learner’s permit and her younger brothers (Kristopher, 12 and Lukas, 8) are preparing for the worst. Judging by Kristopher’s face as he recounted the time his sister forgot that the family minivan was still in reverse, he’s more than a little nervous. “She screamed so loud,” he exclaimed from the living room couch, gesturing with his hands.

“I did not,” defended Karina. And so, begins a familiar sibling exchange.

Born abroad in Cyprus, Karina relocated to the Angus Road area of Charlottesville when she was 3 years old, along with her parents, Roy and Maren. Since that time she has laid claim to a sunny second floor bedroom that has grown with her through the years. Various collections dot the large bookshelves in her room—from athletic trophies to bead-filled glass soda bottles. Posters of German soccer players are displayed on brightly colored walls.
“I recently painted that wall orange,” she said, pointing. Each wall in Karina’s room is a different color. As her tastes change, she can easily update her décor one (manageable) wall at a time.

SOUND PROOF

When you’re surrounded by the constant hubbub of younger sib-
lings, it’s good to have a way to escape. These professional-quality headphones block outside noise while offering high-definition sound, just for you. At $199.95 (Crutchfield), they’ll set you back a pretty penny but, really, who can put a price on silencing your little brother?—C.B.

A loft bed dominates the space. “My friend moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, and she gave it to me,” she explained. Beneath the loft is a cozy workspace that houses her desk and extra storage. “I like how my desk is underneath my bed. I like that feeling. It’s nice. It [eliminates] some of the distraction because it’s more enclosed.”

It can be a challenge to establish quiet time elsewhere in the house when the noise and stuff (Legos, Playmobil, etc.) seem almost constant.

“[My brothers] are very energetic,” Karina said. “They run around a lot and are pretty messy, too…It kind of bothers me sometimes when they take over the whole living room.”
When the common areas feel too chaotic, her bedroom functions as a sanctuary, a place where she can relax, get work done and ultimately, be herself by herself. “[My brothers] aren’t really allowed to come into my room. Ever.” To cancel some of the excess brotherly noise or just to enjoy music when it’s late and her brothers are already in bed, Karina often listens to her iPod through headphones.

When asked what advice she would give to older sisters she said, “Make sure that [your siblings] know the boundaries. Keep a space for yourself so you can just go there and chill out by yourself.”

As for advice to parents trying to regulate sibling conflict in the home, she said jokingly, “Always side with the older sister!” Seriously, though, she emphasized fairness. “I also think it’s really important to let the older sibling have privileges and make sure that [the younger ones] know that it’s because [their brother or sister is] older.” Some of the privileges in the Hange home include: choosing the radio station, staying up later, and having first dibs on certain food. And more privileges are on the horizon for Karina as she approaches 16. “Soon I’ll be able to drive,” she said, smiling. Wide-eyed, Kristopher braced himself on the couch.

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