Last weekend, I attempted something I never attempted before. I allowed each of my three children to have a friend over. At the same time.
My son had repeatedly invited his friend over for nearly a month. His friend is the son of one of my lifelong friends, but he goes to a different school and church. That means that he operates on quite a different schedule than we do. Each opportunity that arose for him to come over wasn’t convenient for his mom – or vice versa – for several weeks.
Since it finally worked out for this weekend, I told my middle daughter that her friend could come over as well. Her friend does go to the same school and church that we do, and she has been over so many times that she is like one of our kids.
And we let our oldest invite her boyfriend over for dinner and a movie on the same evening so that she had someone to talk to while the littler folk ran around. My plan was that, if they were all paired up, they would each be in their own little worlds, and I would not have to listen to the bickering that comes when one has a friend over and the others try to impinge on their time together.
Best idea ever.
One of the coolest parts was dinner. Six kids, my husband, my dad and I were all crammed around the table with a big pot of spaghetti and sauce, a bowl of salad and a plate of bread. There was so much chatter that one could hardly be heard above another, but there was so much laughter that no one wanted to be anywhere else. It was awesome.
After dinner, my husband headed to the garage to avoid any commotion while the younger four ran to their rooms to play. My eldest and her guest helped clear the table and load the dishwasher. Then they watched movies until it was time for him to go home, while I crocheted on a blanket I am making. I didn’t have to shush anyone the entire evening.
Despite a relatively late night, the boys were up early the next day. Out in the barn before 9 a.m., I hardly saw them other than when they wanted food or a drink. They played farmers, spies and who knows what else as they climbed into the hay lofts and through the mows, peering out all of the highest windows and doors at the ground below.
A little later, the girls got up and also went outside to play. While the four of them were all in the barn, they used a rope to create a pulley system for sending “mail” back and forth between the lofts. Later, they tried to fly a kite. All day they found activities that kept them busy and that were entirely wholesome.
I would say I was I bit disappointed when they left, but they were so quiet while here that I really didn’t notice a difference. Except in the amount of food consumed at dinner.
Laura Zoeller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.