Watching your children grow up can be defined by one word; bittersweet. You make it your mission to nurture and guide them to the goal of a happy, healthy adult, revelling and marvelling at each milestone they conquer. There’s happy moments, proud moments, tough days and sad. Then just as you start to appreciate the person they’re growing into you realise that your work is almost done.
It’s not that you stop being a parent or guiding and supporting them whenever you can, it’s just there comes a time when your influence is out balanced by many other factors and they’re pretty much free wheeling without you as their stabilizers.
And that’s where I’m heading in my parenting journey with my eldest son, the Teenager.
Our family holiday days are numbered, I’d even say we’re on the final countdown. This sombre fact struck me just this week when I excitedly announced a weekend away and he floored me with his response,
do I have to come?
I hadn’t prepared for a time when our family holidays would be without him and here it was like a slap in the face dealing with that very fact there and then. So I did what every self-respecting, emotionally balanced parent does when they don’t get the response they’re expecting; I resorted to underhand threats and blackmail with a much less appealing option and I told him that he would have to stay with his grandparents instead.
Unfortunately on this occasion my tactics backfired and the thought of a few days away from his computer wasn’t enough to coerce his decision. He took it, a weekend away rejected in return for a few stolen hours with his mates.
Then ‘Boom’ and there it was. My light bulb moment. I needed to up the stakes and set about researching the perfect final family holiday for a teenager. I needed sun, sea and activity. My check list would have to be so exciting that he wouldn’t give his skateboard or XBox a second thought. There had to be other teenagers, they hunt in packs and gravitate towards each other or is it repelling against adults.
I haven’t quite worked it out yet.
One thing I’m sure of is that too much time with the olds could possibly be the nail in the coffin for any future calls on his time, so giving him the opportunity to have fun with his family while allowing some time within company of other teens could be the answer to my quandary.
The toddler’s the easy one to please, give him a sandy beach, short traveling times and the undivided attention of 2 adults and 2 older brothers and he’s smiling. And while I may crave a week of book reading, swimming and dining out, the reality is there’s a tween, teenager and husband who need more going on than a week by the pool.
Put simply, we need sun, sea and activity. That’s all. Water sports, sun and food tick our holiday check list.
Throw in a week with out the distraction of computer games, emails to answer and above all time to reconnect and make memories.
And hopefully, fingers crossed, wish upon a falling star, our final holiday with our teenage son, is nothing but a silly worry.
As if we get it right, there’ll be many, many more to come.