Sooo, back in the saddle after 2 weeks in the country. They were filled with:
coloring Easter eggs
playing board games
walks & talks with friends
some crochet (another baby blanket, for a sweet friend in Frankfurt who’s expecting a little girl this week!)
… and the blissful absence of an alarm ;-).
We had friends staying with us for a week, and everybody had a good time, I think. We tried to spend as much time outdoors as we could, despite the godawful weather. Of course the last few days were gorgeous, now we’ve had to return to school duties. Go figure.
To me, one of the perks of the few precious vacation weeks per year is the time I get to spend with my kids. Especially with my teenage son, whom I don’t get to really talk to anymore as much as I’d like to – about stuff other than the topics that also concern his baby sister (ice cream, games, all things glitter, math problems).
Growing up today seems so different from what I was used to when I was his age. Most of what I liked then earned me the disapproving side-eye: Science Fiction, Rocky Horror, thrift shop clothes, sad-pants mooning over the same boy my best friend liked … it was pretty clear who was on which side. Parents were obnoxious, and all we wanted was to be left in peace and do our teenage thing without being nagged at for messing up our rooms (again).
Now I’d be lying if I pretended to actually like Dubstep (I don’t!), but there is a lot of common musical ground there even without it, and that’s great. Superhero shows, films, anime, crafts, baking, cooking. I like the way my son dresses, I like most of his friends, and he doesn’t mind PDA – which I detested when I was 14. He doesn’t seem to be embarrassed by us, astonishingly, not yet anyway.
But how hard is it for teenagers today to actually detach from their parents? What do we even fight about? What conflicts do we have, if they have no eating disorder or drug addiction? It’s probably more difficult to dislike us, our values, our lifestyle, than it was for us to dislike our parents‘ when we were young. But they do need to find something, as it’s such an integral part of personal growth. They can’t stay kids forever, can they. Maybe 14’s a bit early to expect it, but eventually they will have to find some way to disagree with us. I’ve been bracing for this for a while now. Don’t get me wrong, I’m cherishing and enjoying the closeness as long as I’m getting it, but I’m also hyper-aware that it’s not going to last forever, and there will be something even our super mellow boy can rebel against.
And then, just a few days ago, there was a big fat something. If you’re even vaguely familiar with YouTube culture, you may have come across the term ‚roofing‘ before. It’s actually similar to rock climbing, in a way: These crazy kids climb tall buildings simply ‚because they’re there‘, to quote famous British mountaineer George Mallory who answered this when he was asked why he wanted to climb Mount Everest ;-).
It seems to be a very popular activity in Russia, where roofing in its extreme form consists of getting on rooftops as high up as skyscrapers. The ‚roofer‘ will maybe take a picture and post it online. But ultimately fame isn’t what it’s about. It’s about reclaiming a part of our urban environment. It’s about seeing things from a unique perspective. It’s about sitting up there contemplating and reveling in your solitude. One sympathizes. However – and there’s a gigantic However: If you’re the mom of one of these people, you’re going to have a fit. Right? Even if they’re just getting on a two-story building, you’ll be wigging out. Right?
I had a hard time trying to stay cool about this. I read up on it, and tried to understand the fascination – not easy if you’re scared of heights as I am (ironic, I know!), and I do think I get it. But, oh dear.
So, after ruminating on the issue for a while, and discussing it with my husband, I made up my mind. I wasn’t going to forbid it (pointless anyway, as I don’t shuttle the boy around anymore, nor do I want to). So I asked my young rebel for three things: One, don’t do anything crazy. Be as safe as you possibly can. No damn skyscrapers, Jeez. Two, wear really well-fitting sneakers that are better suited for this kind of thing than the ever-present Jordans. Three, take pictures, and freaking talk to me about every single one of these adventures.
Does my approach make me an irresponsible parent? Maybe. On the other hand, I do trust my kid. I trust his judgment. He’s fast, he’s resourceful, and he’s not going to be reckless. Still, I’m going to be praying a little more than usual, I’m not going to lie.
Signing off with two pictures of feet today, with 13 wonderful years in between.