Travel now, before your teen says “buzz off”

She'll go to pick him up from summer camp, but long haul travel? Naaah. (photo by Sheila Scarborough)I love my kids, but there is a 7-year age difference between my 17-year-old and my 10-year-old, and that makes all of that family bonding a little rough (I had each child on Navy shore duty assignments, and there was a 7 year stretch at sea between pregnancies. Kinda into planning….that’s me.)

Right now, they have little in common.

When I get all excited with the maps and ready to plan excursions, my teen daughter is less than interested in my favorite ideas for long-haul road trips with her brother in the van.

“Less than interested” meaning “violently objects to.”

Here’s the thing: she now has a life outside of her immediate family. Friends. Buddies. Other plans. A driver’s license.

So, when it’s time for Thanksgiving break or the December holiday break or Spring Break, she wants to see her best girl pal coming home from a grueling stint at West Point, or hang out with other friends, not drive with us to West Texas for a visit to Fort Davis and a McDonald Observatory star party (the latest road trip on my wish list.)

We’ll still drag her out periodically, and she loves to travel given the right circumstances, but the tail-wagging days of enthusiasm are over (until a few more years pass, and then suddenly the Parental Units are cool again – you know how that is.)

Moral of the story:  travel a ton when they’re younger, before they decide that their own peer group is infinitely more appealing than long trips with squawky brothers and parents in a minivan.