Sunday Post 172: Before the Dance

When I was a kid, the entire neighborhood hung out at our house. I think this occurred for two reasons:

1)      My parents were cool and embraced a gaggle of kids tromping through our garage and back yard.

2)      We didn’t have too many other options.

The Martins owned a funeral home and that spooked those of us not in the business of dead. Mr. McDonnell had been in Vietnam, and he ran his house like a marine platoon. If Tracy didn’t get home in time to feed Viking, their horse sized greyhound, he’d put her butt on restriction for a week.

Mr. Mask was a principal, and no one was interested in that. Glenn Fair’s parents were older and perhaps agoraphobic ’cause we lived in that neighborhood for seven years and I only saw his mom once.

There were the Appletons who were very nice, but I’m fairly certain they were high a significant amount of time.

In the summer, the kids would congregate in our garage, sometimes before my brother and I even got up from the breakfast table. My mom would check on us periodically throughout the day and fairly regularly would bring out homemade popsicles. They’d melt faster than the candles at the Christmas Eve service – we had red Kool-Aid stains on our arms from June – September.

I want my house to feel like the home I grew up in. I want my kids and their friends to be comfortable coming over and hanging out.

Last week Stephanie finished middle school. She’s been at St. Timothy’s School for nine years. It’s a significant milestone for her – and for me too.

The school sponsored the eighth grade dance tonight. I’ve made it a habit to check in about a week prior to a big event to see how the pre-event social scene is stacking up. Sometimes there’s an invitation from another kid to get ready together at their house. Sometimes not.

When I think one my kids might be stuck flat ironing their hair with me or asking me if a particular pair of shoes looks good with a chosen dress, I start to panic. It’s then that I begin inviting kids to our house.

A babysitter was at my house late one afternoon when a pack of kids were coming over for a sleepover. She said, “My mom would never have allowed me to have a big sleepover.”

I guess that not all parents feel this desire or obligation to be a hub. But for some reason, I prefer it.

Maybe it’s because I never want my kid to feel left out. Perhaps it’s because I know Lisa would have done so. It could be I just saw it modeled and monkey see, monkey do.

It is really one of the easiest things I do – it cost me a couple of pizzas and some ice. But the return is a connection to my kids and to their friends which is priceless.

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13 Comments

  1. I always preferred my kids and their friends be at my house. I knew where they were, what they were doing, and who they were hanging out with.

    Reply
  2. Morgan

     /  June 8, 2014

    You are so right. Four teenage boys slept in our living room last night and had a blast yesterday and today. My costs – pizza, bacon & eggs, and a little patience. My son’s gain is quality time with friends which is priceless :-)

    Reply
  3. Lisa Poole

     /  June 8, 2014

    I grew up on the “old” North Hills Drive. We were on a corner lot and it was larger than the other yards so we had the “hub” Even though I was a girl, I was a tomboy. And there were lots of boys that lived on my street. We played every outside game you can think of–in my yard. Best childhood ever.
    Sounds like you’re doing all the right things. Kudos.

    Reply
  4. Aunt Susan

     /  June 8, 2014

    I knew your parents were the cool ones! You are so cool with your kids. Lisa was too, I think its great that the girls can have the cool house. You are a great dad.

    Reply
  5. Kathy S.

     /  June 9, 2014

    Our house was the hub for our kids and you are so right, it costs a couple of pizzas and now that they are grown, it is costing us some wedding gifts but the return is priceless!! Nothing compares to being a part of your kids and their friends lives. Keep those pizzas in the freezer!

    Reply
    • Danny Tanner

       /  June 10, 2014

      Hadn’t even thought about the benefits for the future. Thanks for sharing!

      Reply
  6. My parents always had welcome arms for my friends, and I’ve tried to emulate that as well! I love having a houseful of kids! :)

    Reply
  7. My house in Greensboro was much like this growing up. There were tons of us. During spring break one year I had kids spend the night every night. That was my moms way. As I read your post to my wife, it brought back great memories and some tears. I relayed to her, if I can be half the daddy to my three that you are to yours, I’ll be satisfied! Thanks for providing a path for those of us following you.

    Reply

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