I have to start with a qualifier. According to my teenage son, I know nothing about what he likes or does… or anything really, period.
But although he's never wrong, I do know a thing or two. I know he's outgrown Telly Tubbies for sure, I think his curtain is jammed because he doesn't like light in his bedroom. I know where to find forks when they mysteriously disappear in his black hole of a room and I know he's sure to hate any activity that his younger brother and sister say they like.
Also, he dislikes with a vengeance when I ask him or his mates any questions. His interpretation of my Weekend Notes research technique was considered an embarrassing interrogation. But I have my means to extract this information from my unwilling, scowling teenager! This includes trickery, coercion and a bit of cold hard cash but hey, 'whatever works' is my parenting teenagers catch cry.
When I asked what teenagers like to do in their spare time his first response was 'What do you reckon?' My mind went wild with possible testosterone fuelled ideas that wouldn't be published here. The ones below are those that have been elicited despite the lack of cooperation (standard teenage mode of operandi). While some of these activities are unisex, I think it'll be clear that some are more preferred by females or males and not necessarily both.
Located centrally on Alexandra Avenue near the Yarra River and Birrarung Marr Melbourne, Riverslide is the inner city's biggest skate park. This park offers professional lessons and advice by a YMCA team. The skate park is designed for different abilities and has facilities suitable for skateboards, bikes, and scooters. However, while most have a tolerance for slower and younger riders this patience can be tested.
The skate park has a cafe and skate shop on-site. We have fond memories of this park being the place where the first broken wrist occurred. It is open 10am to 6pm (later in daylight saving months) and under floodlights on Wednesdays and Fridays until 10:30pm.
Bounce This must be a favorite for all ages. Now available in several locations (see here). The biggest complaint is that you can only book in for two hours and have to leave at the end of the booking time whether you like it or not. Usually my teen and his friends don't like it. They have more energy than Lumo and tend to blame me for this 'unfair restriction.'
They do sell comfort food so at least some of us are appeased. The bonus of Bounce is that it is suitable for the whole family and if you can keep the toddlers away from the teens everyone can be happily accommodated on the same premises and that doesn't usually happen. My suggestion is try not to watch. I've never had a child injure themself (yet) but had several close calls amongst the backflips.
Source: Em Phillips, Weekend Notes, April 2014
Footy Whether it's the first round, mid season when positions are being cemented on the ladder or during the fight to the death for top spots part of the season, footy is always a winner. Rug up in scarves, jackets and beanies and top up the MYKI for an afternoon or night match. The excitement starts brewing long before you arrive and the roar of the crowd is bound to get any surly teenager involved. If that doesn't work an expensive trip to the canteen for a hot pie with a ridiculous amount of sauce and a bucket of chips usually does the trick. Of course it's always better if your team wins but either way there's usually plenty of conversation on the way home while every move, or lack of, is dissected within an inch of its life.
Source: Kristen Greening, Weekend Notes,June 2013
For tips on introducing AFL to newbies click here.
All day shopping expedition (female choice)
The results of my (limited) teenage survey showed that shopping was an unexpected entry in the hot favorite weekend events list. A day to the city was very popular. This was one of my favorites too many moons ago but I thought this had dropped off the radar since the introduction of mega suburban shopping centres. I love Melbourne Central so that's probably not worth a look!
Getting a bargain was rated highly of course but the super surprise was that shopping for expensive items (especially if it's mum's shout) was popular for both girls and boys. The latter seemed to like doing hours of on-line research first before a purchase.
Melbourne Central - a great place to shop
By the time the teenagers identified lunch out as a favorite activity I started to think that perhaps I didn't know what they liked to do after all and that I had been a bit hasty in jumping to conclusions about their favorite pastimes. The females said they like a long lunch at new and interesting places. Click here for some ideas.
So there you go, not straight from the horse's mouth… a little indirectly … but nevertheless teen's suggestions about how to keep them happily entertained.
My final piece of advice is that parental involvement in any of these activities is under the following strict conditions: as a parent you are the driver only who drops quickly and discreetly (sometimes at a distance). Be available to pick up on call (no lag time please) and under no circumstances is a kiss permissible. Mum's loving unpaid taxi service at your beck and call.