A couple of weeks ago, my son, Shane, asked if he could have his best friend, Danny, over for a Saturday of foam sword fighting, Nerf gun shooting and other potentially destructive activities of which 7-year-old boys are quite fond.

Being the cool mom that I am, of course I said yes, a response that totally made my son’s entire week – meaning the countdown to Danny’s arrival had officially begun. From then until the day of the big event, I came to expect a comment from my son first thing each morning, that was something to the effect of, “Hey mom, only three more days until Danny comes over.”

That kid was so excited he even cleaned his room, no questions asked – and not the kind of kid clean that means stuffing everything in the free world under his bed and into his closet. Naturally, I was impressed.

When the day of Danny’s visit finally arrived, the boys didn’t waste any time addressing all the items on their agendas. Within 15 minutes my living room was covered in every kind of Nerf ammunition imaginable, and I managed to escape serious injury – I did catch a Nerf dart in the eye, but I have only myself to blame for walking into the line of fire before first considering the risks involved. And besides, I didn’t get hurt, and both boys apologized profusely. No harm, no foul. Carry on, kiddos!

I also very much enjoyed making chocolate chip pancakes for the little guys – it was, after all, their snack of choice, and I can honestly say I never met anything containing chocolate that I didn’t like, so it was a win-win for everyone.

The mess that remained in my kitchen and living room, however, was a slightly different story – it looked like every shelf in the boys’ section at a Toys R Us store exploded, and there appeared to be little hope of recovering at least half of the ammo from the Nerf guns. I’m still finding the darts in some very interesting locations, including in the dish rack, behind the coffee maker, and under the fridge.

But the boys had a great time, and I look forward to the next time my son gets to enjoy the company of the little boy he’s referred to as his best friend since kindergarten. That right there is worth every minute I spent putting my house back together.

All of it reminded me of what it was like to spend weekends with my childhood pals, all of whom I remain close to as an adult.

I know all of our parents had similar experiences each time we came together at one person’s house or another, and while I can’t say we never got in any trouble, I can certainly say we had a great time making a lot of memories that we all still look back on today and have a good laugh.

Through those times of birthday parties and sleepovers, school dances and football game nights, we all came to know each other not just as friends, but as the family we chose for ourselves. I still cannot imagine my life without any of those people in it or experiences that came with knowing each of them, and frankly, I wouldn’t want to know any other existence – they all helped make me who I am today.

A big part of who I am today is Shane’s mom, a job that has been both challenging and rewarding. While much of the job entails stuff like making sure he does his homework and minds his manners, I see these times he has with his friends as opportunities to enhance his life in ways neither he nor I can imagine at his young age.

I can’t think of a better gift to my son than helping him to foster great friendships. If I have to take a shot to the eye on occasion, so be it – I’ll consider it among the many sacrifices I will make as a mother, and I’d have it no other way.