Like many middle schoolers, my kids now set their own social schedules. They tell me they are meeting so-and-so for a slice of pizza after school on Friday -- or that they'd like to walk to the cinema to meet friends for a movie on Sunday afternoon.
But sometimes I think all this independent living -- driven in large part by the spread of social media -- has gone a step too far.
Kids sometimes spend the whole day at my house. Do I know their parents? Did I talk to them by phone? Not usually. Not that this is the worst thing in the world. But sometimes kids spend the night here on a Friday or Saturday night. Their parents retrieve them the following morning by pulling up in front of my house. Do they come to the door? Not usually.
I've started wondering: Would I allow my children to go off to a sleepover without touching base with the parents? I don't think so. But so many parents do. A text from their child seems to be the only confirmation they need. And another thing: You can be darn sure I'm always going to walk to the front door when I'm picking up my child from a sleepover. Texting my kid to say I'm "out front" is not good enough.
Call me old fashioned but every once in awhile I'd like to exchange pleasantries with other parents. I'd like to find out their names, where they work, and various points of common experience.
When my daughter started middle school last fall, she befriended a whole new circle of friends -- as she should.
Imagine my delight when the father of one of them emailed to introduce himself and also to exchange contact information.
This is how it should be -- but unfortunately it's not.
I continue to be knocked off balance when my child, who just turned 12 this week, gets invited to a sleepover and I've not met the parents or have no idea what the inside of their house looks like.
I don't want to deprive my children of a social life. But I want to be an involved mother. No, I don't have to be best friends with the families of every child my kids associate with. But it sure would be nice to say "hi" -- at least every once in awhile.
What do you think? Do you know the parents of the friends of your older kids? Let us know in the comments section below.
Shelley Emling is the editor of Montclair Patch.