To the parents of the 18 teenage children who came to our house on Tuesday night,
When my son informed me that he was having your kids over I was very excited. Being the mother of an only child there is nothing I love more than having a full house. But I was also a tiny bit nervous.
You can probably guess why. You have sat with me at the talks we've been given by the school about alcohol and teenagers. You've heard the tales of drinking at parties and, of course, you have seen the typical teenage behaviour of your own kids at home.
We all know how those moods and those hormones play out at home and I am sure none of us are under any illusion as to how hard and worrying it can be at times.
My first reaction to their imminent arrival was to stock the house up with lollies and snacks. Yes, I provided sugar (lots of it) and even though my son had told me they were eating at the beach before they came round, we ordered a couple of pizzas to ensure everyone was overfed.
Before they arrived I got a text from a friend to tell me her husband had seen the kids at the beach and my son had gone up to him and greeted him, shook his hand and behaved like a mensch. My ego was stroked, I have always been insistent on good manners and inside I was congratulating myself on a job well done.
And then your kids arrived.
In dribs and drabs all making their way up from the beach, some had walked and some had caught the bus. And while I was standing by the front door feeling smug about my child's well-mannered behaviour at the beach, my smugness turned into something else entirely. I wasn't just smug about my own son, I was ridiculously proud of all your kids as well. I was elated my son is surrounded by teenagers like yours.
As each child came into the house they greeted me, some hugged and kissed me hello and again I felt how lucky I am to have been part of their lives since they were little kids. Each and every one of them was friendly and polite. There was not a single grunt, there was no one who avoided looking at me in the eye. I was beginning to think there were no "typical teenagers" in the bunch.
But then I realised these are the typical teens our kids hang with. They are friendly and happy and well mannered and so very funny. We really seem to have created a humorous bunch of people. Yes, they are still regular 15-year olds and their interest in alcohol and sex is piqued, but to see them that night you wouldn't know it.
They played loud music, but not so loud the neighbours could hear it. They played some version of truth-or-dare similar to the version I played over 30 years ago (yikes). They ate, they drank more fruit juice than soft drink and they never even finished the lollies my husband told me I hadn't bought enough of. Some of your gorgeous kids even brought snacks with them –- FRUIT! Not alcohol or drugs, but watermelon and pineapple.
They even sort of cleaned up before they left!
I know not every day is rainbows and unicorns and of course we are all going to deal with behaviour which is questionable at times. But I think maybe amid all the scary stories we hear and the worries we have, we don't give ourselves enough credit for the amazing children we have produced.
Your children are welcome at my home anytime. You should be proud of the people they are. I sure am.