The idea for this post was born on a family bike ride on Sanibel Island in January of 2015. Biking behind my “new” teen, I had a few aha moments about how our family vacations were evolving as the kids were growing up. Our oldest was being particularly stinky about our bike ride – something we had done almost every trip to Florida. It was a tradition! But this time, it was like we were torturing him. By biking . . . in the sun . . . on vacation.
Don’t get me wrong. Most of the changes are positive. Each trip gets easier and the diaper/nap/tantrum years are (thankfully) a distant memory. But some changes – like the sudden onset of puberty are, well . . . I’m not sure? Not negative per se, just – whoa. Try to prepare yourself (an impossible statement). I was not ready for this stage and its sudden onset. Our son was minding his own business at age 12, but after officially attaching “teen” to his age, things shifted.
Riding along behind him, I hoped he was just having a bad day – and this was not a pattern of things to come. I laughed to myself as I created this list in my head while he bitched about the heat and how much biking sucks.
They keep you active. Thankfully, having bigger kids means you can do the things you couldn’t do when they were little. They can stand in line longer. They can hike farther. They can (finally) do grown-up activities on their own without many interruptions other than food. You literally dreamed of this moment when you were pushing a stroller or cutting your plans short for naptime. You realize that you better take care of your own body so that you can keep up with them for several more years.
They are independent. Big dude can finally pack his own bag and carry stuff! He can also carry our stuff!! He can entertain himself on a long flight or a long car ride and knows how much longer there is to go without asking. It’s like having another adult, sorta. Because 95% of the time we still need to tell him what to do. But he can still do it, and that’s a solid plus.
They are easily inspired. I think because they are stuck in the middle of little kid and adult, they are still entertained by silliness. Combined with creativity and know-how, they are a great source of laughs for the family. Refer to Exhibit A below:
They can be helpful. This happens only occasionally, or maybe after you or your spouse has had a meltdown about how unhelpful everyone is being. But, when it does happen, the clouds part and the sun shines down bright. You feel like the most amazing parent in the world (cuz you totally did this) and you can’t wait for more moments like these. NOTE: I think we can all agree that being an extra parent is NOT helpful. Also, photo documentation of a teen being helpful is hard to catch.
They are expensive. Parents of teens: Do you remember when you could get your kid into places for free? Me neither. And when they wore toddler and youth clothing and shoes? Distant memory. How about when they could order from the kids menu? LOL. That’s a good segue to . . .
They are hungry. Always. Our teen suddenly ate as much as two adults and he needed food frequently. It’s akin to the toddler years when they want a snack without fail every 2 hours. Except you can’t pack enough food at this stage. No amount of granola bars and meat sticks and fresh fruit is enough. We need a restaurant or a grocery store within a 5-mile radius or I am in a constant state of panic.
They need privacy. One hotel room becomes a little crowded. They will start spending more time in the bathroom – showering and grooming and maybe just getting away from their family members. They will not share (or fit) into a bed with their siblings anymore.
They sleep a lot. We don’t mess around with sleeping in on family trips. Kid better be ready to go when we are. Sleeping in the car just means less time spent teasing his brother. Win!
They are moody. Especially if they are hungry or there is no WiFi connection. Or when you’re biking on Sanibel Island.
Their photo skills are better than yours. Refer to Exhibit B.
They ruin your photos. For at least a year – less if you’re lucky – your new teenager’s face will not cooperate in front of a camera. Maybe this is a boy thing? In subsequent years, they just stop being in pictures or you are not allowed to post even the normal ones you might get. So relish this year of goofiness, they are still “cooperating” with you. Just in their own way. It’s annoying at the time, but funny later. Trust me.