When I was a teenager, our house seemed like it was always full of kids. There were my friends and my younger brother Chris’ friends. And then my youngest brother, Roger, who was 11 years younger. Sometimes my circle of friends and Chris’ circle of friends mingled. He was just 2½ years younger than me. We played roller hockey behind the middle school. We chased after each other in the dark playing flashlight tag. We told stories over bonfires, and even went camping together.

My parents welcomed our friends. Mom always said she’d rather have us making a mess of her house than gallivanting around town getting into trouble. And our friends liked to hang out at our house. We’d stay up late watching Saturday Night Live. We’d tell stories. There was at least one living room concert featuring “Stairway to Heaven.”

It has pained me that my children don’t have the same experience. Their closest friends have always lived outside of our neighborhood. And the kids rarely make arrangements to get together outside of school.

For me, the number of people going in and out our front door was a compliment. They all wanted to come visit “us.” They wanted to be in “our” company. I thought it was the most flattering thing in the world. It wasn’t until I met my husband that I found out that many people see stopping by without an advance invite as an intrusion. Most of my kids’ lives, our house has been mostly quiet.

Then something happened.

One of my son’s friends got his driver’s license. And midterms came along. Logan and some of his friends decided to go to Starbucks to study the Sunday before test week. My husband and I made sure they knew that if they wore out their welcome at Starbucks, they’re more than welcome at our house. A few hours later, I got a text from Logan asking if they can come back to the house. Of course. I mentioned I was about to make pasta and meatballs, and they’re welcome to join us. “So can 4 of us…