Have you noticed that once a kid turns 13, the school holiday entertainment tap switches abruptly off? Vacation care, day camps, even activity workshops seem to only cater for kids aged 5-12. After 12, presumably kids are free to roam the neighbourhood while their parents are at work.
But your kid is barely 13.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not comfortable with leaving my 13-year-old home for longer than an hour or two. Max is a good kid, and reeeeeasonably conscientious, but I would not want to rely on him in a crisis just yet. The other day I came home early from a meeting, stopping off in our downstairs garage to unload a few things. I heard the ping of a text message and checked my phone. It was Max.
“Mum, there’s someone in the garage!!!!!!!!!!!!! What should I do???????????????????” it said.
I rest my case.
What do parents that both go out to work all day do with their pre-teens and early teens? Or maybe your kids are better equipped to deal with whatever the day throws at them than mine seem to be. I know many friends who have kids at home during the day while they work. It depends on the individual kid and family.
But back to the activity thing, because I really want services to step up. Why aren’t there more things going on for teens? There’s a youth group club thingy next to our local library – the ‘Hub’ or something. I think kids can drop in there to hang out, but it’s kinda weird when it’s full of 16-18 year olds and your 13-year-old.
They split the 5-8-year-olds from the 9-12-year-olds at vacation care, why can’t they do the same for teens?
I was thinking that some great day camps for young teens might be things like:
- Video making
- Public speaking
I did find a few things like this, but they were all mega-expensive. Like, more than $150 a day. I haven’t paid that much for someone to look after Max since he was in daycare 9 years ago! How can it be that expensive to look after a teen and teach them a couple of things?
Am I over-thinking this? Do the bulk of people just leave their 13 and 14-year-olds to their own devices and I’m sounding like a helicopter pilot right about now? Anyone who has read my blog for more than five minutes knows that I do not have my pilot license, but I do suddenly feel a bit hovery.
Should I just trust Max in a crisis?
“What if it wasn’t me in the garage?” I said to him later, when we’d unpacked the terrifying experience of hearing the garage door rise when home alone.
“I would have been ready for them,” he said. “I had my Fijian neck breaker souvenir and the element of surprise.”
Indeed you did, Max. Indeed you did.