The L O N G June holiday looms…

The L O N G June holiday looms…

There I was, the paranoid parent, desperately trying to raise my voice above the noise of the Wii and Facebook notifications once again. Couldn’t John just try and fit my version of normal for once? “Play outside will you!?, Surfing the internet is not reading!”

 Clearly not intimidated, he arrogantly reveals his estranged face and says; “this is modern education Mom, get real!”

 Discouraged, I fall back into my chair and stare outside the window at the Jacaranda-covered lanes. When I was young, these streets were filled with the sound of children laughing and playing until after dusk. Why are today’s kids so different?

They are different because they face challenges we as parents cannot even think to fathom. They need to be able to adapt to radical change, to grasp the complex dynamics of various cultures and be able to distinguish between fact and fiction as the difference grows ever so hard to tell. Amidst a world wide web of opinions, views and attitudes, they are expected to develop their own individual identity, strong enough to withstand unavoidable criticism, yet flexible enough to allow for vital growth.

 This begged the question; how do I as parent play a part in this growth? How do I prevent my good intentions from staying just that? I faced this dilemma about two months ago. Now that this soccer world cup thing that kept this city crawling with funny-talking strange-looking camera-hugging visitors is finally over, my life is somewhat normal again.

 I hesitated at first. What if John gets home-sick? What if he falls into a depression when he realizes he can’t do an obstacle course and Mxit at the same time? What if some wild animal attacks him while he secretly sneaks away to check everyone’s Twitter updates?

 After careful consideration, however, I realized that an adventure camp might just be what John needs. Instead of staring at his own feet, there will be other kids, much like him, with feet of their own at which he could take a quick glance before he studies their real faces and makes friends. He will experience the outdoors in new, fun ways. See magnificent wild life, work as a team, and learn to appreciate the more simple pleasures of life. John needed convincing, though, and his anticipated reluctance came in the form of: “This is so lame!  I hate you! Give Dad sole custody!”

 I had to tuck away my smile, however, and be the concerned parent. I had to make John see how messing around with the Minolta outside my office for two months will definitely not be fun; how Gran will only agree to short visits since today’s kids are just too hard to entertain; or how R200 per day for numerous trips to the mall will simply be too expensive.  

 John proved the fact that there is indeed a first time for everything, when he eventually agreed to go.

 After three days without a word from John, I started to worry. Is he okay? Does he really hate me? When John eventually called he was different. He sounded happy, animated and alive!. He couldn’t stop talking about the animals (real ones with big horns) and new friends that do not only exist inside his computer or phone. He was excited, vibrant and having loads of fun.

 Whoever thought a company with a name like MiFootprint could have such a profound influence in my techno-boy’s life? He left his unique footprint and got a taste of what this beautiful country has to offer. I am no longer that paranoid parent. I see now how I underestimated John’s generation and find a strange sense of comfort in his oddness.

  1. Suzaan says:

    Wow, this is exaclty how the kids of today act! I hate mxit and twitter, kids needs to have more face to face communication! I think every parent of a teenager will agree completely!

  2. Damien says:

    I can associate, thank you for providing an alternative to keep my children busy and safe.

    Damien

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