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My son and I had an extraordinary experience this Spring Break while on a ski trip at Mammoth, California. It was just the two of us, since my wife stayed home for work and my older son preferred hanging out with his friends and girlfriend (I can’t blame him, as she’s wonderful). So, it was a special alone-time-trip with my younger son, David. Together we learned about the possibility to overcome fear.
Because our skiing levels and skiing interests are quite different, we tend to prefer to ski separately. I have friends there and David had some friends from school that he skied with. However, we always hook up at some point and one day, after he’d slightly hurt himself and was taking it easy, we skied together. We skied just one area, where there’s a short chair lift and short runs.
Sexting, texting, e-mail, Twitter, MySpace, NetFlix, Facebook, formspring (not a mattress company), “smart” phones, iPads, iPods, laptops, etc. That’s the world our kids live in. And, it’s moving faster everyday! Can we trust our kids with social media?
For me, it was a library card, and a book, on a roller-skate, which my friends and I would use to go down the hill where we lived. Oh, we also played a made-up game we called “Mongoose,” in which we hit a ping pong ball back and forth with two books, the object being to do it as long as possible. We had a phone, but its use was limited. TV was only on weekends. And, there were just three networks and not much else.
That just ain’t the world no more! With the recent spat of texting related violent incidents, I’m beginning to question what boundaries we parents should consider for our kids, especially our teens, with these social media devices. My 16-year-old got into a mess of peer trouble with an impolitic facebook post. It was stupid, but not that big a deal. At my urging, he even publicly apologized (and in a well-written, not too self-deprecating fashion – I was impressed).
My 16-year-old son has a girlfriend, going on six months now and going strong. She’s terrific and so is her family. They seem locked at the hip and they’ve even managed to avoid the common mistake of “first love” by maintaining their existing friends and not drooling over each other ad nauseum.
However, they are holding hands all the time and even when I knock on my son’s door before entering, they’re often on his bed together, clearly enjoying each other’s company.
One of the many things that we try to teach our children is how to make good decisions. Sometimes the problem can be that we may not always make good decisions ourselves or we may allow emotions to influence our choices. I found this to be true in a recent argument I had with my older son and a latter discussion about an important choice he wanted to make.
The argument was about his last-minute decision to back out of his promise to come skiing with me over Winter Break, preferring instead to stay home with his friends (and girlfriend). I got angry as he made this decision days before we were supposed to leave, thus leaving me high and dry with little time to find a friend to come in his place. My wife and other son were already scheduled to go on a very special trip to Japan and Hong Kong.
This past Winter Break I ended up with some alone time as my wife and younger son went to Japan and my older one, 16, stayed home to be with his friends and his girlfriend. I went alone to the mountains to ski. I used to be able to bring my dog, Simon, but the place where I stay has begun enforcing archaic HOA rules forbidding dogs of guests. So, instead of a warm, furry body next to me, I had the cold sheets and my wandering mind for company.
I had a fight with my mature teen. I acted like a teen and he acted like an adult. I pouted. He was reasonable. I was yelling. He was calm. I hate when that happens!
It all had to do with expectations and desires, on my part, for my mature teen son to want to hang out with his dad. Our family was apart this holiday season as my wife and younger son went to Japan and Hong Kong.
So, my first wedding anniversary is right after Christmas and my wife and I will be alone on separate continents. We didn’t plan it this way, but it turned out just as we planned.
We celebrate both Hannukah and Christmas, so at least we’ll have a couple of days of Hannukah before they leave. I’m quite conflicted doing both holidays, but I’ve had to let that one go–part of the compromises of marriage and a strong-willed, stubborn wife. Or course, I’m not the least bit stubborn.