In 1994 my husband and I were living in Maryland. We were looking for our first home to start our family. Our first son wouldn’t be born until 1998 and our second son in 2003. Growing up, there wasn’t many kids in close proximity for me to play with. I had 2 close neighbors, and anyone else I had to jump on my bike to go to their homes. When we finally bought our first house, it was in an up-and-coming development, so we knew there would be plenty of kids for ours to play with. Just on our block, our son easily was able to play with 5 or 6 on a daily basis. That was more than I ever had available to me when I was growing up. The kids seemed to like to congregate near our yard. I think this was because the property that we bought was a corner lot and had a huge side yard, facing 2 streets. I found out later that the electric box at the corner was “home base” for games of kickball or whatever else they were playing. My mother-in-law at one point told my husband that she felt that it was probably a good idea that they hung out at our house because then we could keep an eye on things and see what they were up to. I wasn’t so sure, because I remember my dad getting frustrated because my friends and I would try to build forts and he would ask, “why don’t you guys ever go to so & so’s house to do that?” (Probably because we weren’t allowed to do it there either, lol). I tried to keep an ample supply of freeze pops and Kool-Aid in the garage fridge/freezer. That stopped eventually, because like my dad, my husband started seeing wrappers and trash accumulating from blatant disregard after consumption. So, what started out as a gesture of kindness, was reduced to an occasional treat. As my oldest son got older, his friends changed and the kids in the hood were still childhood friends, but not the core group that he’d start to build different friendships with. I had friends that would occasionally spend the night when I was growing up. Especially, when you don’t live close to each other. The school district in this area, I guess you could say, is a farming district. It encompasses a huge area, and a lot of it is rural. A time came when he would spend a lot of his summers at a campground, staying with a friend in a family member’s camper. These overnights became a normal thing. Him staying with friends and us allowing friends to stay at our house. The kids had the latest and greatest game systems, occasionally we’d rent a movie, or a WWE wrestling match for everyone to watch. Pizzas were ordered, snacks, and tons of juice pouches. This all just became a normal routine between the core group of friends that he had at the time. Our younger son was born 5 years later, and he would do the exact same thing. He would spend nights at one friend’s house that had their own tree house to sleep in. Another friend lived in a huge house with a pool and even more games/activities than I could imagine. (Ziplines, fireworks at cookouts to name a few). I know that some parents aren’t keen on this spending the night idea. I guess because this was the norm when I grew, I never considered it to be a problem. I never had a reason to worry, I never had a fear that something was going to happen. If it did, I knew the parents and the kids. We all had become friends through our kids, and occasionally attended gatherings in their homes. Fast forward to Jr/Sr High and these boys all played football together. We’d see each other at games, and even would sit together to cheer on the team. These were not people that didn’t know who we were, that we didn’t know who they were, and we all pretty much knew each other’s parenting styles. (This again was why it seemed natural to buy into the FAMILY idea that the coach had started). That was one lesson I learned early on, was that you should get to know the parents/guardians of your kid’s friends. After meeting them, that normally helped us establish whatever boundaries needed to be established. There were a few times when I had to tell my kids, I don’t want this person back in the house so don’t ask. I also had to tell them that I didn’t feel comfortable with them going there for different reasons, so don’t ask. People who know me, my husband, kids, and my family all know the type of people that we are. When all of this happened to us, to say that it shook them to the core was an understatement. When people that have known you, your entire life and read things about you in the paper’s it affects them. I later learned that there’s a difference between allowing friends to visit and when it starts to become a hang out. I can’t say I wasn’t warned.
#Friends #Parenting #Kids #FirstTimeParenting #1stTimeParents #LifeLessons