Once a month I host a dinner, If Dinner, is the name. Its purpose is to build community, deepen relationships around Christ centered conversations. Since I love to cook, throw parties and have a house full of people this is fun and easy for me. Our meals have varied, our attendance has been low and high, conversations have always been interesting and although we have questions to ask we have rarely gotten to all 4 or stayed on topic because the conversations, the learning from each other, the laughter has taken its own course and always ends up where we needed it to.
This past weekend was May’s If Dinner and the question “What is one thing that brings you Joy?” was asked. Although the list is long in answering this one thing that popped into mind and the reasons why it was joy filled kept flowing the answer is my kids. More specifically being friends with my kids. Now, we did not try to be friends with our kids, we have always and will continue to be parents first. We have been so much parent to our children we have been criticized about that from others. They say we are too strict, don’t let them have fun… Our children will even tell you that we have said multiple times things like… ‘I am not here to be your friend, I am here to parent you’ and ‘we can be friends when you are grown.’
But as each year passes and experiences and memories are made I feel because Jason and I can parent well (meaning we are a great cohesive team whose end goal is how our children can function outside our home to stay safe, healthy, care for themselves, be kind and contribute positively to society) we have easily made friends with our kids.
I feel the parenting leads to trust and respect and boundaries. All things that make one feel safe and loved. I say I am friends with my kids because we laugh so much, we joke and they speak my language of song lyrics and movie lines. When I tell them I miss them and want them to hang out with me they say, “OK, sounds great.” I don’t get an attitude or sighing or argument.
When I substituted for a everyday for a month they told me they missed me. My older 2 wanted me home before they went to school. They seemed to miss our morning talks, even if it was just about the day’s schedule. They missed me not being so tired.
I don’t know if it is coming or if we skipped it or if I will get double doses in the younger two but my older two have yet to show the “normal teenager angst” I am not even sure what that is… but I don’t have kids, like others I know, who back talk and complain and argue and huff and stomp away because they don’t get their way. We have all had our moments where we let emotions get the best of us and I have listened to my kids tell me they don’t like my decisions and feel I am unfair with great passion… but I don’t get the behavior from them that others I know carry on about. I like to think how J and I manage our homes atmosphere is why. If I’m honest, I won’t be too surprised if someday we get a nice dose of hormonal teenager attitude. But I have so much hope in how we navigate away from that bad behavior because when they ask if they can do something with a friend and the answer is no we are rarely questioned…when we explain we haven’t all been together lately, or I want to just be around them their response is positive, a simple ‘OK, I can catch up with them later.’
I have an almost 15-year-old and a 13-year-old who asks to do things with you, for you and as a family, well, that’s huge. It makes be excited about the bittersweet future we have in front of us… the future where they move out, get married have kids and come home again.
Just this weekend I sat at the kitchen counter sipping my coffee watching my oldest cook crepes while J filled each one to order, listening to them all joke and talk and plan. I soaked it in, laughing and making up stories about the future stories and shenanigans that would all be part of our life years from now.