“A grownup is a child with layers on.” -Woody Harrelson

When my children were little I always tried to make our home the place that they wanted to be with their friends. Consequently, I have known and cared for many children over the years. I am proud and content to say that I have always been pleased with the people they choose to surround themselves. I like to think of myself as the den mother, of this big tribe connected over time to our family through one of the kids. Many of my closest friends over the years came through the kid’s relationships to other kids.

The kids are all on spring break and the house has been full of friends every day. These days, our typical big family dinners add two or three more kids at each meal. Hanging around and listening to my older son’s friends, all of them just months away from high school graduation and college choices makes these evenings more precious. I have known these boys well for almost a decade. I can still see the younger versions of them in their faces when they turn a certain way.

It would be harder to let go of them if it weren’t for the new pack of boys that is now growing up in our midst. My younger son’s tribe is moving out of middle school into high school next year. I am glad that I will still be surrounded by young boys turning into young men. I know how fast these next four years will go, that before long, every one of them will hit their growth spurt and my memories of the boy in them will be the last vestige of this time, witnessing a new generation taking shape.

Watching kids grow up gives you access across the generation gap. All the texting, gaming and ipoding that surrounds and defines their relationships is a mystery to me. It doesn’t matter if we don’t get it, or even if it will badly impact their ability to relate in the future. It is not my future to decide. Trans-generational living is only available as long as it can remain judgment free. Not as easy as it sounds, especially when you hear the music.

I am happy when my home is full of kids. Getting swept up in their games and privileged to add to their heated discussions makes me feel my youth in a vitality kind of way. They are all cool and I feel lucky to know them. Walt Disney once said: “Too many people grow up. That’s the real trouble with the world, too many people grow up. They forget. They don’t remember what it’s like to be 12-years-old. They patronize, they treat children as inferiors. Well I won’t do that.” Living with lots of kids around you helps you to remember to let out the kid in you.