Monday, January 21, 2013

Having friends over

You may remember that when we went tree hunting after Thanksgiving, we brought a couple of friends along with us.  And we had the best time ever.  Seriously, we're going to have to bring friends along from now on.
Hubby, AKD's friend D, AKD, MC's friend E, MC, Roger
Anyway, the mom of MC's friend just couldn't believe that we would want to include her son in our family outing to pick out our Christmas tree.  I assured her multiple times that we, indeed, did not mind having him with us, and that in fact, we thought it would be more fun with him along.  Anyway, I eventually told this mom that some day I would have to tell her the story of why I'm so willing to have my kids' friends over. 

That happens now.

You have to understand, when I was growing up, our house was messy.  Let's just say that keeping a tidy home was low on my parents' list of priorities.  I won't go into details here, but suffice it to say I was too embarrassed to invite friends over.

One day, when I was in Jr. High (oh the angst!), my best friend at the time and I made plans for me to spend the night at her house.  She was going to go home and ask her mom and I was going to go home and ask my mom.  We both naturally assumed that both moms would say yes, since that's what had always happened in the past.

So I went home and asked my mom, who said yes (actually she said ask your father, who said ask your mother, who said ask your father, so after a few rounds of this I decided their answer was yes).

The next day at school my friend told me her mom said I couldn't come over anymore until I invited her over to my house.

I understand now where my friend's mom was coming from.  It's not that I was a huge inconvenience or horribly behaved, but it gets tiring after a while always being the host.  Always feeding the kids and providing supervision.  She had no idea there were extenuating circumstances, and figured we were just being rude by never issuing our own invitation.

But at the time?  I was devastated.  I couldn't invite my friend over to my house, and I couldn't even tell her why.

That's why I always say yes, whenever possible, to having my kids' friends over.  Even when it's inconvenient.  I really have no idea what their circumstances are and why they might not reciprocate our invitations.  I really don't care.  I want my kids to have friends, to be able to spend time with their friends outside of school. There are so many great lessons to be learned this way.  And if the only way for that to happen is for me to open my home, so be it.  Most of all, I want our kids' friends to know that they are always welcome in our home: that we care about them and enjoy spending time with them.

 I do have ulterior motives here--it's not all butterflies and rainbows.  I mean, if my kids' friends are spending time here, I control the environment.  I get to know them, and I hear things.  Which is all good when you're attempting to help a child navigate his way through the gauntlet of childhood to adolescence to adult-hood.

So that's the story.

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