Ethan Cruz, Sawyer and Landon Hooser at eighth-grade graduation. (Photo: Courtesy of Lesley Hooser)
It’s Friday night, and I’m holed up in my bedroom like I’ve been grounded (except I snagged a glass of sauvignon blanc before shutting myself in here).
I put myself in here so my 19-year-old son Sawyer and his friends could have the living room to play Dungeons & Dragons, a tabletop fantasy role-playing game.
Sawyer, Ethan and Landon were 10 when they met in fifth grade. A year later, Blake joined them, and they were four.
They ate string cheese for lunch, complained about homework and practiced their trumpets and cellos together. They screamed little-kid screams during Super Soaker battles in the pool.
Now, I can hear them, their deep voices and laughter, through two sets of closed French doors. They're not boys anymore. They're men. And they're still friends.
How did we get here? A group of friends out there, and me in here?
1. It's hard work (for you) for your kid to have friends
The boys’ moms worked hard to get them together. Two lived in Tempe, one in Apache Junction, the other in north Phoenix.
We sat through endless kid birthday parties. We drove all over town for sleepovers and movie nights. We drove even farther for camping trips.
Even now, I'm banished to my room. In my own house.
2. Because they were friends as kids, it's easier for them to be friends as adults>
Blake Starr, Ethan Cruz, Landon Hooser and Sawyer Bland met in grade school. Ten years later, they're still friends. (Photo: Karina Bland/The Republic)
When their lives got tougher, in the teenage years, they were tougher together.
When Sawyer struggled, the guys, driving themselves now, were at the door. Other times, Sawyer went, whatever the time, when one of the guys needed him.
They used to see each other every day. Now, two go to the same college. One's in community college. One's working full time. Sometimes they're here with girlfriends. Sometimes they're solo.
But it doesn't matter that their lives went their own ways. They already had everything in common they would ever need.
3. It's more important that they're close to each other than to me
Sitting in here, I imagine them 10 years from now, married and with their kids, around a different table. Maybe they’ll still be playing Dungeons & Dragons.
I have great friends of my own. They were there when my dad died. They helped me when I was raising a son by myself. They are with me still.
I wanted that for Sawyer, too. I never wanted to be my son's best friend. I wanted him to have best friends.
Before I banished myself to the bedroom, I snapped a picture of the boys — I mean men. They humored me.
Now, I call it up, and text it to the other moms. "Back to the basics," Lesley texts back.
I’ll stay in my room for the night for this. So they can be out there. Together.