Except, he is.
We went to Tahoe to celebrate his eighteenth birthday and brought five of his friends, including a girl, so they could attend a three-day music festival. This was Teen’s one and only request for his Big Deal B-day, and since December birthdays have clear drawbacks, we decided to make it happen.
Originally, the ticket was his gift, on one condition: a trustworthy adult who knows him and cares about him would lay eyes on him at the end of each day. When he couldn’t find that person, we ponied up.
Twenty-plus years of youth ministry, leading and chaperoning countless trips with, oh, thousands of kids over those years, should qualify us to take six teenagers away for four days. But “parent” is different than “leader” and I wasn’t sure I felt up for four mid-holiday days of serving Teen’s friends (cooking, cleaning, shuttling). And yet. This was a chance to demonstrate BIG love.
Well worth it!
We rented a three-story house in South Lake Tahoe, 57 stairs bottom to top—at altitude, those stairs loomed tall in our weekend workout. The boys jumped on unloading the car, carrying suitcases and bags (and boxes) of food. We laid out a spread of chips and dips and cheese and crackers and fruit and they happily ate up, comparing thoughts on the day’s music line-up and who they would see at what time on which of three stages.
They were gone from about 2:30-11:30pm each day, which meant we fed them breakfast when they rolled out of bed, earlier than expected; cleaned up; fed them lunch–or at least put out snacks they stuffed in hidden jacket pockets to sneak in to the venue; and cleaned up again before Guy dropped them off at the shuttle. Then he, Tween, and I were on our own to enjoy time together (sightseeing, walks, movies, board games).
The kids were kind, talkative, and hysterically funny. They kept us in stitches as they used words in new ways, creating their own code they hoped might hit a stage and boomerang through the crowds. They chattered endlessly about who they’d seen, both on and off stage, who they hoped to see, who they danced with, even who kissed who. They stumbled in before midnight to eat the hot dinner we had waiting for them, except on New Year’s Eve, really New Year’s Day, when the crush to exit the venue had them fed and to bed before 2am.
Besides the tired around his eyes, I have rarely seen Teen so full-body happy since childhood. He thought Night 1 was the best night of my life until he got to Night 3 which he said was definitely The Best Night of My Life! My non-touchy kid gave me kisses and hugs, and at weekend’s end he generously thanked us for such a great celebration.
If gratitude, good and kind friends, and unselfconscious happiness aren’t signs he’s getting older, I’m not sure what is.
[Chainsmokers headlined the 2017 SnowGlobe Music Festival. Closer is their big radio hit]