Sunday, October 23, 2011

Apple Picking with Teenagers

It is a sad and wonderful thing to see your kids grow up. 
When they are little it seems like they will be with you forever. But somewhere around the age of twelve or thirteen, you start to realize that this person you created, this child you carried and nurtured and hugged and fed and laughed with is soon going to leave you. It is exciting to think about all the possibilities that await them, but you realize that it also means they must move forward. And they can't or won't always take you with them. So you start to try to hold on just a little bit more, and you try to find more reasons to get them to spend time with you.

I know whereof I speak. I've already done this. Twice. Two of my four kids are on their own. My oldest is expecting my first grandchild. (More on that in a different post!) My second oldest is still in college, but doesn't come home very much. He is a Marine reservist and that keeps him busy. I see him maybe once a month. I miss him.

So while I still have two kids left at home, I try to hold onto those times when we do things together, when we can laugh and talk and just enjoy being together. And of course with teenagers, that's not always easy to do. They have lives you know. Or they don't want to go with you. It can be hard to carve out that time at home when there is always so much to be done, so I try to make them go places with me. The problem is, they don't always want to go.

Take yesterday, for example. Hannah and I wanted to go apple picking. Dad had a music rehearsal and couldn't go, but I told Alex to be ready to go at 3pm. "What?", he asked, looking stricken. "Why do I have to go? I hate apple picking."

His sister looked at him incredulously. "How can you hate apple picking?", she said. "What is there to hate?'

"It's stupid", he said, repeatedly pushing the video game controller button.

"Well," I said, "You're going. So get up, get your shoes and get in the car."

One of the things I have learned from all these years of parenting is that a sullen teenager can ruin your day without even doing anything. So when Alex put on his teenagerish attitude, I knew I had to strike preemptively.

"Alex, you know you're my baby and I've had three other teenagers to practice on, so I'm going remind you that I didn't put up with this stuff from them, and I'm certainly not going to put up with it from you. You can change you attitude and decide to have a good time or I'll torture you when we get home."

He looked at me and smiled. "Torture me?? Wow, Mom, you're so loving and kind." 

Now the thing is, he knew that what I meant by torture was that I wouldn't leave him in peace to play video games. No, instead he knew I would find plenty of chores for him to do and vegetables for him to have for dinner. Well, he was getting the vegetables either way. 

So off we went to the apple orchard. And yes, we had a great time. The funniest moment of the day? When Hannah picked an apple, held it up and said, "Look, it's like a tiny planet you can hold in your hand. A planet that's on fire."

Here's some photos of our day.

Hannah and Alex frolicking

Wagon ride up to the orchard
 Hannah walking into picture frame just as I was shooting

 Alex being a goof


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