Val in Real Life

Postcards from Real Life: Parenting Teens

This week when I shared the nuts-and-bolts of visiting Bandelier National Monument, I had to think back to why I enjoyed camping there so much. Certainly it’s a very agreeable campground in a technical sense but really it was that the time with my sons went well.

There are so many challenges to traveling in a small car with two adolescent boys. The challenges are entirely different from the ones of their younger years. Emotions run high. Volatile. They want their independence yet they still have so much they need from us. Criticism for you as a parent lurks in nearly every comment and interaction.

The rewards when something goes well though? They’re extraordinary.

And with teens, those moments are few and fleeting. Parenting teens involves weathering a lot of storms for only a glimpse of the wonder of seeing our fledglings happy and appreciative of our efforts.

What made our time at Bandelier so memorable was that we were at ease. We’d made it through a couple of days of some sort of stomach bug before we arrived. On the road, that’s even more miserable than at home but we got through it together. We made changes to our plans. We stayed flexible. It gave us at least a temporary perspective and compassion for one another.

Having that ordeal behind us, we explored the ruins without trying to do too much, continued our Boggle tournament, made S’mores over the campfire, listened to the hummingbirds, marveled at the craftiness of ravens, and watched the full moon rise over the trees. We talked and laughed. Together.

I often wonder how they’ll look back at our time camping and exploring as they grow older. I want my boys to learn what they can from the places we visit, but more so I hope they value the connection we have when we’re immersed in the simplicity of camping. And that’s all I can do… show them and hope they get it one day. I can lead them to the water but I can’t make them drink.

And that’s ok. They get to decide for themselves.

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