At the dinner table on Thursday night, I announced to the whole family that we ARE going for a hike this Saturday. We had not been for a weekend hike in quite a while due to tennis tournaments and various social obligations. My teenage boys reluctantly agreed to participate (realizing that they had no choice!)
Despite getting a late start due to my boys and husband sleeping in, we finally got underway. Of course, both boys had to bring their beloved iPods. Between playing games and listening to their music, we managed to chat about sci-fi books, school, music and even girls. The boys were “talking”! A mom couldn’t ask for anything more.
The trail we chose is located in Cape Lookout State Park. The name speaks for itself. The 2.4 miles North Trail leads to a promontory from which you can view a large swath of the Pacific. During the right time of year, which this was not, you can see whales swim by. My younger son thought the scenery was very photo-worthy but that his aged iPod was not a good tool for capturing the moment.
Son: “Awesome view, Mom. Can I borrow your iPhone? My iPod takes crappy pictures.”
Son (grabs the phone which I did not see again for the next 2 hours): “Check out this photo I took. (With a self-deprecating smirk) This will be remembered as my masterpiece.”
Me: “It looks great!”
Son: “I need to post this to Instagram right away.“
Son (5 minutes after he uploaded the photo): “Mom, my post got 15 likes in 5 minutes. Awesome!”
He continued to snap photos along the trail. On the way back, the boys swiftly zigzagged along the trail, leaving my husband and me behind. Watching as they disappeared around a bend, I couldn’t believe how much they have grown. The last time we were on this trail they were only 7 and 8 years old. We hiked at their speed then. Now, we still hike at their speed—their speed 7 years ago.
Son: “Mom, I changed my mind. This photo I just took is even better. Check it out! I can’t believe that I took three great shots in less than 30 minutes.”
I looked at his snaps. They were very good.
Walking through the winding trail, the view of the ocean changes depending on the light, the direction and the fir trees. The ocean and the sky become one when looking through the lush Douglas fir trees into the distance. You only hear your own panting and seagulls’ squawk in the distance. I was deep in my own thoughts when my son’s voice broke my reverie.
Son (proud and excited): ”Mom, my first post garnered more than 60 likes and three people left comments.”
Me: “Do you remember the last time you were here? You didn’t enjoy the hike that much.”
Son (matter-of-factly): “C’mon Mom, we didn’t have Instagram, then.”
At the end, he realized that he had enjoyed the hike more than he expected to. I also realized his enjoyment did not come from spending time with his family (Ok, maybe a little); the thrill came from the photo-taking and social recognition.
So now I know. The secret to getting the boys to hike again is Instagram! Of course, ending our trip with a double scoop of ice cream at the Tillamook Cheese Factory didn’t hurt either!
What is the secret to getting your teenage kids to participate in family events?