Ok so I need to clarify (from this post yesterday) that I do still believe in gathering and Dave and I will always try to provide a safe, uplifting environment in which our kids can feel comfortable bringing their friends but I just don't know that I want to force the issue.
I've noticed that our house always seems to be crawling with neighbor elementary-school-aged kids but as Max and Elle have grown and blossomed into teenagers they don't gather here as much. This morning I asked the kids at breakfast what makes a house a "gathering house" and Elle sheepishly told me "one where there aren't little kids." There's a strike-out for our house but I actually think a bunch of these teenagers like seeing the funny things Elle's crazy little sisters do... Claire and Grace adore them look up to them so much and Lucy doesn't care either way but sure makes for some amusing things to watch sometimes:)
I know another draw for teenagers is food, namely junk food, which is quite non-existent over here. When the teenagers do gather here I generally respond by whipping up some cookies because I know their poor growing bodies really need some nutritious sustenance of that sort:) A couple of my favorite afternoons have been with Elle's friends gathered around the bar in our kitchen telling me all kinds of things as I whip up some no-bake cookies for them. I love to hear their interactions and the things they talk about.
I guess the bottom line is that in my observations of my teenage children thus far I will take what I can get of the friends that visit and take advantage of carpools where I have them trapped within listening/talking range. I think "gathering" houses become that way not only because of the kids who invite their friends, but because of the parents who are all cool and friendly and welcoming. And sometimes I think with everything going on in life for Dave and I right now we are just plain tired at the end of the day.
I think being in a gathering mode ebbs and flows through life. There are times when I've been an avid "gatherer" and times when I've had to hunker down and just get through the busy-ness and/or trials of life. Each personality is so different and I want to be there to support whatever my kids need/want at each stage of life.
And then I'll brace myself for when Grace becomes a teenager :)