I'm not sure if there was ever a time in history where a parent was considered cool by their teenager. I got along well with my parents and usually enjoyed being with them, but I don't think I would have ever considered them cool - especially not when I was in high school.
I distinctly remember a trip to K-Mart as a teen. Not only was I mortified to be in that store, it was not a cool place to hang out in 1979, but I was also there with my parents. At one point when they couldn't find me, they began to call my name in unison, "Bruce, Bruce Ham, where are you?"
If I'd had a sword I would have jabbed it through my jugular. I'm still scarred by that moment in time.
Now it is my turn! I get to be the parent of a least one teenager for the next decade.
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I don't desire to be the coolest parent around; you won't find me hosting parties for my kids with kegs of beer that I've purchased. You also won't find me sloughing off curfew or looking the other way when a "C" shows up on the report card. But I am striving to find ways to connect with my rising sophomore.
On our recent beach trip, DJ asked me if we could rent a surf board. My initial instinct was that her request was ridiculous. Neither one of us would ever be able to surf, and I was sure she'd be frustrated and done with it after rental day 1.
But a little voice inside my head told me to "shut up." It told me to take this opportunity to connect with my kid and potentially rack up some cool points (I think I have negative 645 currently). So I bit.
What I gained in coolness in renting the board, I apparently lost when I tried to start talking like a surfer.
"Dude, I'm really amped about surfing. I hope we have some epic waves." I used a surfer accent.
As we drove up to the rental shop, DJ jumped out of the van.
"Hang loose chic, I gotta get my wallet."
"Dad, you're such a dork."
The owner told us the rental for three days would be $35. He then gave us a bar of wax.
"Sick DJ. We have our own wax."
Sometimes I don't know when to stop.
When we got back to the beach, I'm fairly sure I looked pretty darn cool walking along the shore carrying my board. But that's when the coolness stopped.
DJ went first, she'd done this before. She paddled out on her belly, then sat up like a champ.
"DJ - there's a gnarly wave coming your way! But look out for gray suits (I'd been on line, that means sharks)."
She tried several times but couldn't stand up.
"That was bitchin'," I thought I'd earn points by throwing in a cuss word - she is 15. "Now watch this."
I paddled out and worked to sit up, my legs thrown across each side of the board. It took less than a second for the entire board and 46-year-old surfer to do a 180. Not front to back but right side up to upside down. My hair was brushing against sea shells, my feet above water.
I wondered if this could be considered a wipe out.
I tried again. This time I swear my head brushed up against a sting ray.
"DJ, I think you should practice some more. I'm going to go check on the boogers (boogie board riders)." Thank goodness I have other children.
DJ surprised me. She stuck to it and surfed multiple times each day. I even got to the point where I could sit, with my head OUT of the water and even attempted to stand up a couple of times.
I think we're less Hawaii 5 - 0 and more Gidget. But who cares, we had a great time and spent hours chilling together! Maybe I'll say yes more often.