By Susan Dromey Heeter
Travelling with teenagers allows me to imagine myself a bus driver and a personal assistant.
I write directly from New York City where musings really are joyful surrounding the joy of travel with teenagers. I am with three girls ages 13 and 16 in Manhattan and, so far, so good.
I am the light in the refrigerator, something you don’t notice until it goes out. I am there; I create some ease but I am mercifully in the background, provide some much needed service – but definitely not the lights of Broadway or Times Square. And for that, I am grateful.
It’s kind of wonderful to be in the background. I’m content to sit back, read the texts to see where I am to go, where I’m needed. This show is not mine.
And the bonus is that I truly get to live in the present – which is beautiful to do anywhere, but particularly when I am in NYC. When I went to pick up my 13-year-old daughter from her lunch date with friends she knows from New Hampshire’s Camp Bernadette, we came across the crowd outside of Trump Tower.
And, yes, witnessed the craze that came with the Trump Tower climber. I’m just glad he was not on my watch; THAT teenager would have been in major trouble with me.
And, yes, teenagers do pretty crazy things. One of the rules I have before departing Dover is clarity. I tell my charges what I will pay for (lodging, transportation and one big meal), what will happen if I discover any drug or alcohol use (we go directly home), and what time I expect them in (11 p.m. at the latest.) And, so far, so good.
A major bonus of travelling with teenagers is that they have their own earnings to spend. And while I can be an ATM machine at certain moments, those are rare. I like travel on the cheap; we bring our own lunches, eat at various bodegas, fill our water bottles. And teenagers can figure this out on their own and make great choices when the money they have to spend is their own.
Teenagers also have the benefit of many years of education. Any place is perfect to practice time management, map reading, budgeting, physical education, history — but NYC is particularly stellar with a myriad of opportunities for putting those courses to use in the real world. My teenagers walked over 10 miles around Brooklyn, now know that Bronx is nowhere near Staten Island and utilized their Spanish more in listening than speaking, but enjoyed the art of the eavesdrop. Life lessons.
When we ate lunch today in Little Italy, we talked of the Godfather movies – which at some point we’ll watch – and, let’s face it, that Corleone Family is so much more interesting than those on the Disney Channel.
Most comments regarding teenagers are pretty disparaging – but in travel? Sure, my charges are horrified by me wearing my blinged-out NYC hat, tell me I walk too slow, and admonish my every attempt at anything remotely hip, but I have nothing but positive experiences to share – and while that can change on a dime, today, it’s good.
My teenagers really do leave me alone. Bliss. And if they decide to put on some suction cups and climb Trump Tower? Well, it’s probably time to return to NH – stat.
Thanks for sharing in my joyful musings here in sweaty NYC. Stay joyful and enjoy your own journeys.
Susan Dromey Heeter, a writer from Dover who recently let her hair go au natural white, debuts her new column “Joyful Musings” at InDepthNH.org. Dromey Heeter is a secondary Spanish Teacher at Dover High School and the mother of two teenage daughters. Writing has been her passion since her English majoring days at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. Dromey Heeter has lived in The Netherlands, Alaska and currently basks in all things New England, including the frigid winters. An avid swimmer, Dromey Heeter’s great passion is to bring back body surfing as most children have no idea how to ride waves without ridiculous boogie boards. She also writes about thrift shopping and all things frugal in a column called “Budget Vogue” for the New Hampshire Union Leader.