One of 2018’s summer hashtags is #18summers. It refers to the 18 summers you can spend with your children and how you should relish and savor those moments. And to make most of them. But I’m guessing that the one who started the hype didn’t have teenage kids.
People don’t change just because their surroundings change. Teens don’t, in any case. In fact, I feel my almost 14 year old went full on teen on me just because I took him out of his natural habitat and into a new one he didn’t choose. I want my kids to see the world and experience other cultures. It’s part of our parenting philosophy. And it has felt like a joy with Junior up to so far. A road trip through California when he was 4, exploring Western Canada in a RV when he was 8, cruising Costa Rica when he was 10, and Norway when he turned 12. But this year’s backpacking in Vietnam is a whole other ball game.
His idea of the ideal holiday today is an all-inclusive resort, where he can do nothing. And with nothing, I mean N.O.T.H.I.N.G. It doesn’t even include swimming, because he ‘doesn’t do swimming.’ When we checked in into our family room at our first hotel, he asked where his room was. Because, you know, at his age he needed privacy. Oh, I’m sorry, that was after he asked for the wifi password.
Gratitude? That’s a hard thing to come by. But in his view, what does he has to be grateful for? He didn’t ask to be dragged into this smelly and dirty and busy country, traveling from city to city, going from sight to sight. He doesn’t want to be here, doing things. He wants to be home, doing nothing. So now he seeks comfort in his phone. His safe place to hide on Instagram, to nest on YouTube and to chat with his online friends through Skype.
I didn’t know if I should be happy or sorry for the bountiful free wifi in Vietnam. Because everywhere he would hook up and disappear in his phone, blind to what’s in front of him and what we’re trying to instill on him. So although it’s not my style, I made him participate in a family activity. It was his baby brother’s birthday and the boy begged him to pleeeaaaase go swimming with me?
So here’s a warning to the blissfully ignorant mom with toddlers and happy infants: quite a few of your 18 summers (that is if they want to go with you until they’re 18) are with teenagers. And that can be just hard work as a parent.
On the plus side, teens are very unpredictable too. On the last day in Vietnam, he admitted he had a fun holiday. He liked the Easy Rider tour which I thought he endured with a sour face. He thought the ‘Another?’ waterfalls in Dalat were fun and he had enjoyed the beach in Hoi An where he had met a Korean ceramic artist. Say what?
Traveling with teens. Get ready to be surprised.
So now I’m REALLY curious: how do you cope traveling with teens?
Xoxo – Irene