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How Being A Mean Mom Fosters Friendship

When you have 18+ 12-year old boys coming to your house for a pizza party & movie night, you need to think a few things through before they arrive.
So I did.
I thought about the weather. I thought about how we were doomed if it rained, and I spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about how on earth I would entertain a million 12-year old boys inside for 4 endless hours.
I thought about the friendships. With a group that large, there are bound to be smaller groups of closer friends. I thought hard about how to make sure everyone was included without looming over the party treating them like they were 4-year olds.
I thought about food. Everything I don’t buy during the rest of the year was included: Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, Doritos of every flavor, orange soda, grape soda…the list of poisons was endless. One boy actually requested an apple. An apple! I would’ve given him ten, or ten dollars, but he was happy with one Granny Smith apple. God bless him.
I thought about a lot of things, but I didn’t think of everything. I forgot about their phones.
One friend came early to help us get ready. He was here for about 4 minutes, when I realized my error. He’d already sent 4 text messages, and had looked at his phone more often that he’d looked at any of us. And you know what? He’s not my son, so if that’s okay with his mom and dad at his house, more power to them. He’s a nice kid & I’m glad he’s friends with my son. But I can add.
And I can multiply. And there was no way I was having 18 cell phones whipped out every other second so kids could converse with someone other than the 17 friends standing right next to them.
In that moment, I decided to make the announcement.
After the boys had all arrived, and before they took off to start the best two-hand touch football game I’ve seen for quite some time, I gathered them for the news.

“Boys,” I said sweetly, “Welcome to our house. I forgot to let you all know that this is a CELL PHONE FREE PARTY. You can call or text your mom or dad, of course, but otherwise, I’d prefer if you left your phones alone during the party.”

Deep breath.
“Okay.”
“Sure.”
“That’s fine.”
And one by one, they put them back into their pockets without a second thought.
Except for one boy. The one with the ear buds still dangling. He dared to challenge, but I held my ground. After all, you never have to accept an invitation to our house, but if you do, you gotta follow our rules.
I’m mean like that.
The 4 hours flew by, the rain held off until we started the movie, and no one else complained about the phones. I loved watching the boys with their silly jokes and their wild behavior and their hearty laughter. I loved that they were fully present, not half there, not distracted by something funnier or cooler or much more important than the event at hand. I loved watching them connect with one another.
And to that end–to helping kids foster-friendships, live in the present, and enjoy the life that’s right there in front of them–to that end, I’ll be a meany any day.