Moving teens from Point A to Point B

The history of humankind is one long story of movement. While most of the other critters were content to stick to one place, our big brains compelled us to always wonder what was over that next mountain range or across that lake or ocean. The tales run from the early wanderers who made their way across the Bering land bridge to the Pacific islanders who inhabited one island after another using rafts made out of toothpicks and fish heads.

As evidenced by more recent excursions – testosterone-fueled trips to the poles, the moon, the bottom of the sea – the drive to move has only increased. And nowhere is this more in evidence in our home than in the incessant need to get out and about exhibited by our teens. But, unlike me when I was that age and pretty much did as much as I could without parental assistance, our kids are like a greedy nonprofit that seeks the government handout instead of holding a fundraiser. They would not find it at all unusual, inappropriate or inconvenient to have us on-call 24/7 so that we can drop whatever we are doing and go pick them up. We should also, I’ve learned, do as much as we can to tailor our schedule to match theirs so as to avoid anything inconvenient – like riding the bus or, heaven forbid, walking.

As I write, it is a powder day and, to the extent that I can get the two boys awake, I was thinking of doing what most rational people do on a powder day: ski, and ski early. But the girl has her gig at Taco Bell starting at 10, and I usually drive her the approximately five blocks between our home and the Bell. So I’m faced with the dilemma of compromising a powder day to drive her; incurring the wrath of my wife who will have to get up and drive her if I don’t (since she doesn’t share my views about the benefits of walking); or somehow convincing both teen and mom that walking a few blocks in 25-degree weather will not be life-threatening or representative of cruel and unusual punishment.

Just look at Ernest Shackleton, I might say, who braved years of the Antarctic icepack before finally bringing himself and his entire crew back alive. Or what about those Paleo-indians who came across the Bering land bridge? And they didn’t even have the prospect of a stuffed, double cheese Gordito Krunchwrap Supreme awaiting them. Don’t these examples of human fortitude inspire you to stretch your legs just a little and, well … walk?

I could also default to tales of “when I was your age …” I’m pretty sure I was as lazy a teenager as could be found anywhere, but when it came to making it to our hangout places, I was as motivated as Roald Amundsen, who zipped to the South Pole on dogsleds and beat the Brit Robert Scott by 35 days. The drive to walk, bike, hitch are bum rides from my older brother or sister was inspired as much by my desire to get to the hanging-out place as it was not to have my parents “inconvenienced” — either by having to get up to drive me or by the knowledge of where, exactly, it was that I was hanging out, with whom and in what, er, context.

Granted, the neighborhoods of my Long Island boyhood were easier to traverse on bike or foot than the far-flung spaces of the mountain communities. The reality is that, on most days, our family would be better served with a helicopter than anything else. And not just one of those dinky news choppers; I’d want one of those big, double-rotor troop-carrying models – something that can handle a week’s worth of groceries, the whole family plus the inevitable supernumeraries who cling to teens with rides like remoras on sharks.

But for now, I can at least take solace in that pat parental line offering such rides enables: At least we know where they are.

Update: Your columnist caved, drove the girl to Taco Bell and hit the hill a little later.

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