What does it take to become the "hang out" house - the place where teens choose to gather and spend their free time? I want to know, out of selfish interest.
As son number one grows older and taller each day, I see before my eyes his transition to independence, to a phase where his time with his friends is becoming ever more important. I'm lucky - he is a wonderful young man, devoted to his brother and willing to spend time with Mom and Dad.
But I want to be prepared to entice him, and his buddies, to know that our home is always open to them and that we want them here. Even more than my selfish interest to know that he's safe and secure, I enjoy my son and his friends.
Last night, the gang was over for another band practice. The school talent show at the end of this month is quickly approaching and they need to tweak their "act". They've been practicing in the garage for the past few weeks, but our concern for our neighbors' ears prompted us to move them inside last night.
My hulking, and all too infrequently used, dining room furniture was moved up against the wall. The room became home to three guitars, a keyboard, a drum set, a sax and a rambunctious lead singer. The walls reverberated with the classic rock song they'll be performing. Max the Hamster and Matlock the cat ran for cover, as did their owner, Son Number Two.
But me? I was happy to hear that noise, happy to feed them burgers and hot dogs my husband Greg grilled up, and to watch them devour a big package of store-bought cookies before dinner had been served. Having them here is a pleasure - they smile, offer polite thanks, and engage in civil conversations. They may play loudly, but I've known most of them since kindergarten and am thrilled to watch them develop into young men.
Becoming the "hang out" house is going to take some effort on our part - negotiations are currently under way to transform my dining room into a "music room" (with guitarist dad leading the planning) and I'm going to need to keep a stock of frozen pizzas and soft drinks on hand at all times. But that's a small price to pay for the reward of watching my son become a young man before my very eyes.
Lisa M. Hendey is a mother of two sons, webmaster of numerous web sites, including http://www.catholicmom.com and http://www.christiancoloring.com, and an avid reader of Catholic literature. Visit her at http://www.lisahendey.com for more information.