Where the Kids Hang Out

In the 1989 Kevin Costner movie, Field of Dreams, Costner’s character built a baseball field on his farm. Many friends and family thought he was crazy for building the field.  The phrase “if you build it, they will come” was whispered over corn stalks like wind carrying a tune. It was catchy and was forever linked to this movie. 

In 2003, I said this very phrase to my husband when we decided to build our “dream home.” I’m sure he thought I was crazy, too! 

At the time, we had a 4 year old, a 2 year old and a 1 year old. As crazy as life was with three that young, I knew that as our kids got older, things wouldn’t slow down. I knew that when they were all teenagers, we would want a safe place for them to hang out with their friends. So when I told my husband, “if you build it, they will come,” “it” was our home and “they” were our kids’ friends. I wanted our house to be a fun and safe place that our kids would want to hang out at. 

When we moved into our new home in December of 2004, our home became Grand Central Station!  And you know what? I loved it! I loved that our extended family had a place to gather together for holidays, birthdays and for all occasions in between. I loved that my children’s friends had a place to swim, play basketball, play video games, pool or ping pong, watch movies and spread out for large sleepovers. 

As my three older kids (we added #4 in 2008) became tweens and teens, our house quickly became the “hang out.” I’m not saying they only came to our house, but most of the time, they are here.

Our kids quickly learned that they needed to check with each other before they invited friends over. We have run into the occasional conflict when two kids have invited friends at the same time. Luckily, we could separate friends on different floors of our house or find something they could all do together…at least for a little while.

My kids have also learned how to be a “host.” They know first hand the work that goes into getting the house ready for guests, being mindful of house rules and enforcing them while friends are here – and that they are responsible for cleaning the house once all the friends leave. 

As a mom, I love seeing all the friends come in our front doors, take their shoes off,  say “hello” and go down the stairs to the basement. I love hearing (and feeling) the jukebox blasting the latest songs. I love hearing all those voices singing along at the top of their lungs. I love seeing all the photos of kids at my house pop up on my social media feed. I love keeping my pantry and fridge stocked up on their favorite snacks and drinks. I love the memories they are making and that, in some small way, I’m a part of some of those. 

Some of my friends and family may also think we are “crazy” for always allowing our kids’ friends to hang at our house. They often ask, “Don’t you get tired of always having them over?” Or “They can always go somewhere else if you don’t want them there.” However, my husband and I honestly do love having them here. We love knowing all the friends names and what cars they drive. We love that they are comfortable being around us. We love knowing that they are safe. 

As parents of a college freshman, my husband and I know very well that in a few short years, our house will be eerily quiet. We know that the jukebox will collect dust. We know that we won’t see 20+ pairs of shoes in our entry way. We know we won’t hear the doors opening and closing every few minutes. We know that we won’t need to keep extra snacks and drinks stocked. 

So, for now, and for several more years to come, we will cherish being the “hang out” house for as long as our kids and their friends give us the privilege. We will enjoy the “craziness” that comes with having lots of teens walk through our front doors. 

And I will always feel fortunate that we built it…

…and they came.

  


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