Last week, I had the pleasure of traveling with 12 kids. It was different than traveling with my own. These were teenagers. Also, since I’m not their mom, none of them talked back a single time.
We weren’t traveling as leaders of the group. We were more like herders. They were all assigned a number that was theirs for the week. Anytime we went anywhere, we had them count off. We waited to hear every number, in order, from one to 12. Only once was a number skipped, but it was just because a kid was sick and resting on the bus.
Being with that many kids (and only three adults) made me think. I can’t imagine ever having so many kids that the adults were outnumbered. We always thought we’d have three or four kids. I’m fully aware of the simplicity of two.
I also thought about what it’s going to be like actually living with teenagers. The kids I was charged with keeping track of are good kids. Their parents may not always think so, but they were well behaved for us. Besides, I got to send them home at the end of the week.
Now, I have my ideas of how things will go when The Boy and The Girl hit the teen years, but I’m pretty sure those of you who actually have teenagers are laughing at the thought. Ideas? I probably have no idea.
You see, being 16 now is totally different than being 16 in 1993. No one had email, and the few cell phones that did exist were in a big black bag and you couldn’t take them out of your car. We couldn’t call our friends unless we stuck a quarter in a pay phone. A curfew was set, and unless you could find a blue phone booth, you simply had to be home.
Have you heard of this thing called Family Map? If you’re a kid, and your parents don’t have it yet, I’m sorry to put any ideas in their heads. Anyway, this thing is crazy. At any time, you can locate any member of the family who’s on your cell phone plan. You can tell if the car is moving or still. I’m sure it’s great for parents, but is it too much? Is it like reading your kid’s diary, or is it just parenting in the information age? I’m torn.
I’m friends with several people who’ve told me that having a child that’s of driving age is terrifying. Every time the phone rings, you must wonder if something bad has happened. As long as the kid is holding their own cell phone, Family Map must eliminate some of that worry. If you know where your kid is all the time, they can’t really get into trouble, right? Ha. Fat chance. I guess the peace of mind is worth it, though.
So how much leeway do you give them? I’m all for throwing them a rope and giving them choices. They can use the rope for good or hang themselves, but it’s their choice. Their mistake to make. However, if we can keep them away from trouble and out of harm’s way, the resulting situation is definitely preferable.
With Facebook, email, texting and all of the iPhone apps that I know nothing about, are they allowed privacy? Do we demand to know their passwords? I mean, I’ve seen Dateline. People get in trouble on the internet. There are scary people out there.
I can’t even imagine the trouble we’ll have with double standards in our house, seeing that we have a boy and a girl. Do you give boys more freedom, or is it a different kind of freedom? With boys, you worry about one boy. With girls, you have to worry about every boy in Augusta (and beyond). I’m pretty sure I can hear The Man polishing his shotgun as we speak.
There are clearly a few unanswered questions. They may never be answered, and if they are, I’ll bet the results will be completely unexpected. Nothing will go as planned, and the plans I do have will change daily, depending on our kids’ moods. I’m not looking forward to having two kids who like me just fine half the time, while they absolutely hate me the other half. I am looking forward to seeing what type of people they become. Life is already much more interesting as they grow up.
The good news is they still like me. They still want to snuggle with me and hold my hand. I know the password for their iTouch purchases — they don’t. Family Map isn’t anything we need yet. As much as I hate to admit it, I’ll probably even use it when they’re out driving around. Is it mean to microchip them, too?You Might Also Like: