Now that I’ve got 2 mother-daughter 13 year coming-of-age trips under my belt, here are some things that worked well:
1.Do whatever the kid wants, within reason. I didn’t want to eat fettucine alfredo instead of saimin, or have Mexican food when there are so many great local foods to sample, but eating what Kai wanted was easy to accommodate. (Although I put on 5 lbs in 4 days—whew!)
2.Do something active each day, whether the kid wants to or not. We kayaked, we snorkeled, we biked. Kai wasn’t thrilled about biking, and I worried when we got caught in a rainstorm that I’d never hear the end of it. But at the end of the trip, she said biking was a highlight. Active adventures create better memories than watching a movie or lounging by the pool.
The Kapaa bike trail that lined the ocean–4.5 miles of beauty (and rain)
3.Make plans: Teens get bored quickly. Plan ahead to prevent whining! Some attractions also sell out (like the Statue of Liberty in NYC, and kayaks in Kauai), so booking ahead of time was crucial. It was fun to do something indigenous to the place—so Ling and I saw 2 Broadway shows, while Kai and I went to a luau.
4.Make plans with set boundaries: While I might have preferred renting a kayak for a day rather than paying extra for a guided tour, the guided tour worked better because there was a set amount of time it would take. Plus there were others there so whining about how much work it was to kayak was too embarrassing. If I rented a kayak, the trip might have lasted an hour (the same amount of time we snorkeled and biked). With the guided tour, we kayaked and hiked for 5!
Guided Tour on Wailua River
5.Employ as many languages of love as possible. I’ve written before that my kids seem to have all 5 love languages, I seem to have none. But here were my attempts:
a.Physical Touch: Hugging, holding hands, even crawling into her bed to hug her all seemed appreciated
b.Quality Time: 4 straight days
c.Giving gifts: I bought her a turtle/honu charm to go on the charm bracelet I gave her for her 13th birthday. This has gone far!
d.Words of Affirmation: Although she said my blog on her kindness was cheesy, she lapped up the chance to hear positive words.
e.Acts of Service: I planned the whole darn trip! But I’m not sure a 13 year old can appreciate the work that was involved.
6.Just do it! The kids looked forward to it, and Ling still refers to our time together, we’ll wait to see what Kai says. Ren’s already begging to come back to Hawaii in 2 years because he wants to go to an outer island too! (Don’t know if we’ll be able to swing it, but his other idea is to kayak and hunt for diamonds in North Carolina. “Why don’t you do that with Daddy?” I ask. “Because I want to go skiing with him!”)
Sometime soon I’ll write about what I would do differently or change—but for now, got to go to the Honolulu Aquarium and Waikiki beach—keeping the kids busy and avoiding boredom!