Look Up! Why You Should Have an Adventure With Your Teen

Time. It’s the most precious commodity known to man. Not gold, silver, platinum or petroleum. Time. It’s that one resource which is not renewable. How we as parents spend our time speaks volumes about what is most important to us. And it speaks volumes to our teenagers.

For a long time, I obsessed about what I wanted to remember about my children. I wanted to be a stay-home mom and not put them in daycare because I wanted to have all those wonderful experiences with them myself.

Their first steps, first words, first tooth, and teaching them to say please and thank you. I wanted to play with them, teach them their colors and shapes, and hear them say “Moooo” when I asked them what a cow said. I wanted to remember their sweet voices, their huge blue eyes, and those beautiful blond curls.

As the years have progressed, my focus has shifted a bit. Of course, I still want to be present with them and to remember all the important life events that are going on now– first dates, first cars, awards, graduations, weddings – all those milestone events that stand out in our memories and seem to shape our lives and relationships, things that write our story and tell who we are. But now I concentrate a lot on what they are going to remember about me, in addition to what I will remember about them.

Now I concentrate a lot on what they are going to remember about me, in addition to what I will remember about them.

What kinds of memories are we making together? How will my kids remember their parents, their time at home? Will they look back with fond memories and view their home as a haven? I do hope so. I have devoted my life to making that a reality.IMG_3343

We made some good memories together recently. We went on a vacation to California in early June, an adventure with our teen daughter and our college age son.

We flew to San Francisco and stayed there one night before heading down to Yosemite National Park. We all thoroughly enjoyed the City by the Bay, but Andrea seemed to love it the most.

IMG_3251She loved the Golden Gate Bridge, the steep streets and cable cars, the little town houses, the flowers on Lombard Street, and especially Mr. Holmes Bakehouse. We all loved that. (They have the distinction of creating the absolute most delectable blackberry filled donut that has ever traversed my taste buds. But I digress.)

We went on to make our memories at Yosemite. The scenery was magnificent. Everywhere we went, we kept saying, “Look up!” The trees, the rock faces, the waterfalls – all merited the exclamation to “look up.”IMG_3517

We hiked to the top of Vernal Falls, a beautiful, misty waterfall that was well worth the pain of the 1 ½ mile uphill hike to reach the top. No one grumbled. We just took our time, drank plenty of water, and forged ahead. We were definitely rewarded for our efforts.IMG_3811

We left Yosemite and passed through Fresno, California for an evening. We were in for a 30 degree temperature increase, but we “weathered” it just fine. Thanks to my teenager’s proficient smart phone usage, we stuIMG_4059mbled across some awesome sushi, in our ongoing Sushi Quest, at the Ginza Asian Bistro. I highly recommend it if you are in Fresno and you love sushi.

Our “look up” adventures then took us to see the big trees of Sequoia National Park, where you just don’t realize how gargantuan a tree can be until you are walking upright through the tunnel made by a hollow one that fell on the ground years before. Standing arms out also emphasizes the enormity of those tree trunks, as does craning your neck to look up to the top. It makes a person feel mighty small in the face of such a vast creation.

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Bears were another part of the adventure. I knew bears were a force to be reckoned with because of the signs posted everywhere we went. “Don’t leave food in your car overnight,” and “Never feed or approach bears or other wildlife.” They even had a bear trap sitting at one of the Visitor Centers. It was inevitable that at some point we would encounter a bear.

And we did. Two of them, as a matter of fact.

The first made me kind of nervous. We were hiking on a trail at Crescent Meadow in Sequoia NP when we looked over and saw the bear about 30 yards away, foraging in the meadow for food. Where is that can of bear spray when you need it? (Glad we didn’t.) We got some good pictures, but the whole vulnerability of our situation hit me pretty hard, and I decided it was time to make our way back to the vehicle.IMG_3605 - Copy

We spotted our second bear in another meadow later that evening. Fortunately, we watched and photographed that one from the safety of the van. No bear spray required.

I am so thankful we made those memories together with our kids. These years are passing by so fast, I can hardly catch my breath, and I want to enjoy the present moments as much as I can.

I want you to enjoy them, too.

I know your job is demanding.

I know you are going through a mid-life crisis, wondering where your life has gone.

I know many parents are dealing with their own unique sets of issues that may pull them away from their families sometimes.

But your teens need you. They need your attention and your precious time, and they need it now.

When my grandma, who was a very loving person, got to the end of her life, someone in the family asked her if she had any regrets. Her answer – I wish I had hugged my babies more.

Hug your teens. Spend time with them. Take them on adventures. You’ll be glad you did.

What kinds of adventures are you having with your teen? I would love to hear about them in the comments section below, and about how those adventures helped you improve your relationship with your teenager. Thanks, and as always,

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