Our son, Ben, will turn 17 next week. To celebrate, he wanted to invite his friends to an overnight at our house – some neighborhood friends and some school friends. We agreed, because we know it is hard when a birthday is so close to Christmas,because he is working hard in school this year, and because he has great friends. He chose to have the party this week because they are all on break. So, last night, we hosted NINE fifteen, sixteen, and seventeen year old boys.
For a minute, when I first saw the size and number of our guests, I wondered if we were crazy. What were we thinking to allow so many of these teenagers to spend the night at our house? They looked so huge and grown up, kind of scary. That thought only lasted a short moment, until I overheard their silly, innocent conversation.
These young men are so wonderful. They were polite at dinner, laughing and joking in a good-hearted way. After dinner, they got a little wild, but it was such a little-boy wildness that it didn’t bother me at all. They went up into the attic, where Ben had moved his video games in preparation for his overnight, and we could hear them “horsing around” and laughing. I think they might have been having fights with light sabers and nerf products.
Last night, when they were yelling and being loud in the attic, I was thinking about the terrible things people say about teenagers sometimes. Those things were not true last night. I heard no cursing. There was no drinking. And yet, these almost-grown-up boys were having fun. Good, pure, innocent, loud, raucous, masculine fun.
It was a subdued group that came down to breakfast this morning. They had been up most of the night, and they were tired. They didn’t look so big and scary, more like sleepy little boys. Some french toast and sausage and orange juice perked them up. By the end of breakfast, they were talking and joking again. The topic kept coming around to all the homework they have waiting for them at home. They became serious as they talked about how hard their school work is this year. Mostly juniors, they are focused on getting the grades they need to get into college.
Maybe that’s why they were able to enjoy the chance to play like little kids last night. They work hard at school. They work hard at their sports and extracurricular activities. They work hard at pleasing their parents. Last night, they worked hard at being young. Ben will be 17 next week. College and adulthood lurk in the wings. I am so glad we could give him the gift of this party, the chance to relax and have fun and be carefree and child-like.