Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Becoming the Hang Out House

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.


Anonymous said...

Doors for the dinning room...and maybe some "padding" for the walls...put the table in the great room and move the game tables to the outside room...sounds like some FUN projects for Greg...

Cami said...

The old -- and let me stress OLD -- house we live in had one of those rooms for eating in...what were they called? Oh, yes: "Dining Rooms." Of course, if we had known this, maybe...nah. It's our study/music room. Works great. I highly recommend it. ;)

Anonymous said...

You will not regret giving of yourself and your home to share with your son and his friends. Many youth are adrift on a sea of confusion. You have a golden opportunity to be an anchor in their lives with an unseen ripple effect. May you and all of us do this well.
God bless you and those you love!

Janinine Skisses said...

I'm a mother of 5; 4 sons, 1 daughter ages 24,22,19,15,14. Our hang out house just happened naturally. I was a stay at home mom, homeschooling and all the kids came over especially during the summers.

You just need to provide, the space, food, drinks, and loving support. We spoke the truth to them, yet we listened also. And the young respected us for that.

Let me tell you it was not easy. Yet it was right. Today my trials are different. Best wishes to you.