I decided to travel with my teen son. Not vacation, mind you, but travel. Travel takes patience and a fairly high degree of resilience from discomfort.
Our first stop was Marrakech and you can read a sort of ‘what to do in three days with a teen’ blog from an earlier Jack’s Smack entry. This entry is more esoteric in nature. Rather than a play by play of our time in Fes and Tangier, I want to share with all you Kuel Women why taking my son on this excursion was one of the best decisions of my life.
Traveling, in my opinion, is life-expanding. It’s educational, builds tolerance and acceptance of other cultures, and promotes self-esteem. For those of us who are experiential learners, it is a great way to expand our horizons, learn, and meet new and interesting people with dissimilar and thought-provoking points of view.
My son, who is almost sixteen, is somewhat typical. At home he spends most of his time at school, on group texts with friends, with actual friends, or in his room. I don’t see him much. Sometimes I don’t even see him for dinner – as he often times opts to go out and grab food with said friends.
We were together – for eleven days. Together – 24/7. Yes, he had intermittent WiFi but with a five hour time difference, for the most part he was completely mine. Adding to the constrained Internet access, a smidge of uncertainty and anxiety about the unknown created an unparalleled opportunity. For the first time, in what seems forever, he was very receptive to following my lead and being engaged. My ‘KUEL’ status flourished and a short, but powerful, Renaissance ensued.
My days are running out with Aidan. I know it and I accept it. We are tracking well on the healthy and normal curve. The continuation of him separating and distancing himself is good. I say this with a lump in my throat.
Serendipitously, the first week of our Morocco adventure aligned with a significant physical growth spurt. I literally watched my kid Hulk-out his pants. The juxtaposition of the corporeal and emotional transformations played like a time-lapse photography meme in front of me. The last time I can remember actually being aware of his growth and maturity changes was at his very start; moments of moving up a clothing size or watching him crawl, sit-up, walk.
I could contend that my son did all the growing on this trip, that I pretty much left Morocco much the same as I arrived; but that would be untrue. I had to do a lot of ‘letting go’ over the eleven day period. I realized early on in the journey that my ability to control was thwarted by the gajillion foreign variables coming at us on minute by minute basis..daily… No two days were alike. No muscle memory triggered. Traveling, especially in Africa, is an all frontal lobe activity. I had to let Aidan carry his weight… and at times, mine.
I know not everyone can allocate the resources to such a journey – whether it be time or money or both – but I cannot emphasize enough the upside to creating a sojourn /experience with your teen that affords both a leapfrog in maturity and an opportunity for them to be reminded of our ‘KUEL’ factor. And, even if Aidan’s and my Renaissance life-span was a mere eleven days, I truly believe the effects will linger and permeate our on-going relationship. Only time will tell.