My husband and I have spent our last two vacations with extra teenagers on our trip. We asked our two children to invite one friend each. Here is what I learned after spending 14 days with four teenagers.
1. Teenagers eat. A lot. We spent about $400 on groceries each of those vacation weeks because we stayed at condos that had a full kitchen. We ate out sparingly. Other than bringing home a couple of lemons, napkins and cleaning spray, all of the food was consumed by the six of us. I do not understand how people with larger families pay their grocery bills each month. It’s not like groceries are getting any cheaper, either.
2. Teenagers are messy. I wasn’t sure if it was just my kids. It mattered not which gender, but they all had their stuff spread out all over the place: the bathroom, the bedroom, the living room….you get the picture. They each only brought one suitcase with them for the week, but it seemed as though the clothing and personal items had multiplied in the car ride on the way. And only one teen girl brought travel sizes. Yep, the rest of them brought full size personal items. I am just glad that I didn’t have to share a bathroom with them.
3. Teenagers like to drive around and be seen. We’ve all done this when we were teens, but I don’t think we realized how much we did it. Because neither of our vehicles could comfortably fit six, we opted to take both cars on vacation. Our condo was about 5 minutes from the beach. Daily, the kids would load up in my car and drive down to the boardwalk to “hang out” even though the resort where we stayed had plenty to do. FOMO (fear of missing out) was rampant. They managed to suck up an entire tank of gas in one week driving my car around – and my car holds 17 gallons of gas. Wow.
Spring Break 2015
4. Teenagers are quite adept at using their phones for everything. Maybe it’s because I am directionally challenged, but I was impressed at their adaptability to new surroundings in two new cities when they needed to drive in those areas.
5. But, teenagers don’t know household basics. Because we all are living our lives are more hurried than in previous generations and there seems to be an app for almost everything, we sometimes forget basic skills. Teach your child how to sew on a button or mend a ripped seam in a pair of pants. Teach them how to do laundry and to properly iron clothes. I am not suggesting that your child darn socks, but basic skills like this are important to keeping the clothes that they own suitable for public view. You know that saying, “Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.” It applies to teenagers as well. Don’t send your child off to college, the military or his or her own household without some basic life skills.
6. Teenagers indulge parents (and their friend’s parents) and their hokey ideas. I thought it would be cool to get one of those old time pictures done with the group of us on our recent vacation. Yeah, it was a totally hokey idea, but I think that the kids liked it. And the girls loved playing putt putt golf (which I love). I loved having a photo of all of us together…which brings me to my next point.
7. Teenagers want to spend as little time as possible with parents – unless you are paying for something. I say this partly tongue-in-cheek, but gone are the days where our children want to hang out with us, thought we were cool, and want to be seen in our space. If you don’t have teenagers yet, just be aware. I have to keep reminding myself that it’s nothing personal and that this is the “learning my independence phase” that my kids are going through. It happens to all us and makes me appreciate my parents even more now that I am going through it.
8. Teenagers really do have a different biological clock than their parents. I’ve seen it with my children, but I now know it’s true. While the parents are winding down at 10 or 11 pm, the kids are getting their second wind going. Trust me on this: if you are a night owl, you will love this phase.
9. Facebook is dead. Long live Twitter and Instagram. Face it parents: we have taken over Facebook (the news reports are true) and our teenagers are no longer interested in their FB feed. If you don’t have a Twitter or Instagram account, get one and connect with your kids and their friends there. Seriously.
10. My children seem to pick out friends who are fairly low key and no non-sense (read: no drama). And, I am extremely grateful for their choices. These kids are smart, funny and a joy to be around. And, Mike and I are extremely lucky to have spent time with our children and their friends.