Spending a week with two middle school boys

Sunday, August 19, 2018
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This and That

There absolutely has to be a wrap-up after my adventure with two 13-yearold boys. I was warned by many who thought we would never make it together, that I would lose my mind, that they couldn’t stand being with an old lady like me for a whole week. A little back ground first — the boys are my great-nephew Evan and his friend Atticus both of whom live in Cheyenne, Wyo. The interesting sidebar to this is that Atticus is my cousin’s grandson. The boys met through their parents, they are the same age and hit it off. They are (for those who are interested in those things) third cousins on my mother’s side of the family. Atticus’ great-grandmother and Evan’s great-grandmother were sisters. O.K., so enough of that!

I had told Evan that if I could work it out I would try to arrange a week of dinosaur activities for him this summer and if he wanted to he could bring along a friend. By the time I worked with their schedules and my schedule there weren’t as many things as I would have liked, but we did o.k. Their first activity was a Paleo Hike at the park. They got in a good hike and the weather cooperated. Their enthusiasm for dinosaurs was getting a little vague by week’s end. But we hit as many places as we could. We went to Ekalaka and to Fort Peck and Glendive to see the museums. We also added Forts Union and Buford as historic adventures. I got an opportunity to tell a few history stories along the way. We ate at fun restaurants. Pizza was the number one choice of food followed closely by nachos and other Mexican delicacies. In one of the many conversations we had in the car the subject of peppers and their “hotness” came up. There was no resolution on the issue of how much is too much. We decided to let individual choice be the winner for the day.

The boys enjoyed our adventure, at least I think they were tolerant of my ideas or else totally polite on pain of death from their parents. I know I learned a lot about 13-year-old boys in this day and age.

[1]. What they know that I don’t? On the way home from Rapid City I was confused by talk of virtual reality, apparent reality, and something else I don’t remember. The two of them talked a long time about this subject while I nodded silent encouragement. Electric cars were also a hot topic and I learned they are already letting robotics drive our cars and apparently are driving quite well. I asked how we could have Tesla cars out here where we didn’t have the electric stations but I was told they could go long distances on a charge and not to worry. And didn’t I know that??

[2]. Technology is great as long as it is animated, has music, beeps, whistles and has fantastic creatures. Their phones were in constant proximity to their hands. I finally accused them of being ‘addicted’ at which they took some offense. Contrary to girls, neither cared about social media. (Inwardly I gave that a ‘thumbs up’). My greatnephew thought that girls shouldn’t be a part of his life until high school. Maturity was the big issue. They like “x-men” and think the newest portrayer of Spider Man is the best one yet.

[3]. Oh good grief! I couldn’t keep enough food in the house and it was never the right kind. The need for bottled water assured me the ecologists are right when they say plastic water bottles are going to kill the planet. I found six partially consumed plastic water bottles in their room as they were ‘checking out.’ And appetites are not reliable. One day they can’t get enough food and the next they hardly eat anything until about 11.30 p.m. and then suddenly they are starving.

[4]. I have long heard stories about messy rooms from patient Moms and well, the boys’ bedroom was total disaster. Everything they wore went on the floor in the bathroom, the living room or the bedroom. No pair of socks matched unless they took time to sit down and match them.

And they were anxious to get their drivers’ licenses and wondered in which state they could get them earlier. They could be up all night and then sleep hours the following morning. They can watch a dvd they have seen 10 times and laugh their heads off at the funny parts each time.

Me? Well I learned that my two boys were great — raised by good parents who have taught them things like respect, and discussed faith issues; the boys were curious, lively, surprisingly political, polite and wellmannered. Maybe I lucked out, but I don’t think so.

I learned I can live with left-over nachos in the fridge, a water bottle under the bed and a couple pairs of socks in the living room and not implode. That Hollecker Lake is the best place to swim and that huge floaties, which they used on the lake will, with the air removed, fit into the car. (Evan’s was a pizza slice and Atticus’ had a swan. I told him he could fit seven dancing princesses on it but he looked a little puzzled at that. Guess he doesn’t know the story.) I learned that middle school kids can be sincere and caring.

Regardless of everything else they both liked the food we ate (they told their parents) and they thought maybe we should do this again!??

Avis Anderson is a retired pastor of Zion Lutheran Church in Glendive. Her online blog can be found at www.prairienewdays.com.