Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Revolving Door Policy

When my brother and I were kids, my mom often joked that we had a revolving door policy at our house. Our house was the one all of our friends came to and my mom was the cool mom, she still is. She rarely yelled about muddy footprints on the carpet, grubby fingerprints on the windows, or doors banging with the constant in and out flow of engergetic kids.

As we grew to into our teenage and high school years, the revolving door policy continued. By now our friends knew where things were in the kitchen and helped themselves. Everyone was always welcome for dinner, if they didn't like what was being served or got there too late, there was always a box of macaroni and cheese or a peanut butter and jelly sandwhich. There were days when my mom could make a pot of spaghetti feed a dozen (or more) of us. Friends would drop by to just chat with my mom or beg her to make some cookies for them, usually she would. People showing up unannounced and unexpected was the norm. A few friends even became quite skilled at breaking in when we weren't home to retreive something that had been forgotten or just to hang out till we returned. After the second and third times of pulling B&E's, our closest friends were given keys to the kitchen door, which they still use to this day.

After my mom remarried, the revolving door policy was by this time a running joke. To this day my stepdad swears you can go to the hardware store up town and just ask for a key to our house, that they have them on hand. At first my stepdad was caught off guard by how frequently our closest friends were at the house, even when we weren't. He soon learned that this was the norm and went with it, in no time he was whipping up dinner with lots of extra's "just in case, because you never know who might stop by." Waking up to find someone sleeping on the couch or on the floor wasn't unusual. Occassionally, the living room was full and the dining room table would be shoved aside so someone could lay out a sleeping bag.

The revolving door policy still applies. Our friends still walk in the kitchen door, kick off their shoes, throw their bags in the hallway and settle into the couch like they live there. If they are hungry, they head to the pantry for a plate and scrounge around the fridge for leftovers or grab the peanut butter from the cupboard, and pluck the silverware from the drainer in the sink. They hang out on the deck and play with the dog. They talk to my parents like they are their own. With our closest friends, my brother and I do the same thing. Knocking on the door? Forget it, thats for strangers, not friends. Sometimes, someone still ends up at the house sleeping on the couch.

I've heard some people say that their friends weren't welcome in the house as readily as mine. Their parents were upset if they asked for even just one friend to come to dinner or spend the night or showed up unexpectedly. They can't imagine what it was like to grow up in a house with a revolving door, where people came and went as they pleased often without question. Our home was the place people came to when they had fights with their parents or roommates. The place our friends came to spend the evening just for something to do. Our house isnt the biggest house in the neighborhood and we didn't always have a lot of money; but to this day our friends are always welcome whether we are there or not.

Did you have a revolving door policy when you grew up or do you have one now?


Andy said...

Mandy, just so you know, I may appear one day in your front door and ask your mom to cook me cookies.

Well, we don't have a revolving door policy, but my friends are always welcome to stop by (when we're here) and grab anything they'd like from pantries and refrigerator ; and stay the night if it's convenient.

Plus, my mom hands wine in every dinner we have. So, she's pretty much the cool mom for everyone(Who buys us wine). Except for me, since she's always SO hard to convince to let me go out.

Mandy said...

Andy -- you have to use the kitchen door, the front door people get a different reaction.

Jess said...

This sounds totally awesome. My house definitely was not like that. I was allowed to have friends over if I asked, but I remember that if I asked a friend and they couldn't make it, and then I asked another friend and they couldn't make it, my mom wouldn't let me ask anyone else because she felt like I was inviting people just to have someone over and not because I specifically wanted to see that person. That used to frustrate me to no end and I definitely plan to lean more toward the open door end of things (although perhaps not quite to the extent that your family did) with my own kids.

MeLaNiE said...

Anyone can come by, eat, sleep over, or do whatever when we are there. I can't say that anyone has been there when we weren't.

I might come to your kitchen door & join in on supper one night!

Cameo said...

It will be interesting to see what Sissy's opinion on this will be as we did grow up in the same house but sometimes we wonder how the other can have a completely different experience. I don't remember having a revolving door only because I didn't have many friends, we lived 10 miles out of town and I was homeschooled most of my school years (including all of high school and most of grade school). Oh crap, gotta go, V just dumped her plate. At least it's on her highchair tray instead of the floor like this morning. She had to pick it all up and wasn't too happy about it.

Jill said...

YES!!!!!!!!! My mother was the cool mom, too! Awesome! We so had people everywhere, and they never locked the door... often friends would just wonder in through the night!

My hubby is the principal of the hs in my hometown, so no revolving door for us... it would be too weird to "sleep at the principals house! " hee hee!

Mandy said...

Jess -- it was lots of fun!

Melanie -- the more the merrier!

Cameo -- there were several years between my mom and two of her sisters and they often say they wonder how the came from the same house as well...Poor V!

Jill --Awesome, and its not as odd as one might think. I had a friend whose dad was also a teacher at the hs, hanging out at her house was odd at first, but not for very long.

sarah said...

Are you KIDDING??? If I wanted to have someone over I had to ask my mother a ba-jillion years in advance and even then it was such a hassle that, eventually, the only time people came over was for birthdays. Geeesh.

It's definitely not going to be like that for my (future) children though, let me tell you!!

Jenny and Matt said...

I absolutely want to be that mom!

Cameo said...

Oh, I forgot to say, WE are now the revolving door. It's always fun to wake up Saturday and Sunday (my sleep in mornings) and find out who's over at the time. Of course that's how I want Valentina to feel too, that she can always bring over whoever she wants, whenever she wants. Hopefully that will keep her out of less trouble, but I doubt it. OH! At Trina's wedding rehearsal, Josh's cousin who officiated, asked if there was something in particular that they wanted him to say at the end of the ceremony. My MIL suggested "Shake N Bake!" Do I have the best MIL or what?!

kc mom said...

I think I grew up in your house. Mine was exactly the same. When my sister went away to college, that was the reason she was so homesick all the time. To call home and find out who was "popping in." She only last a year away--then transferred to a local university. I couldn't leave at all.
Infact, on my honeymoon, I cried because I could never sleep "home" again. My Mom had to promise me that I could come "home" anytime I wanted. We have sleep-overs at her house and mine.
My daughter gets frustrated because her friends always want to come here. Maybe someday she'll appreciate it....I know I do.