How on earth do you have family time with teens?
Well, quite honestly, it begins by forcing them to spend time with you, ha! Yes, those delightful little boys that wanted to cook with Momma, spend hours with us and their trucks in the sand, or clamber over rocks with their pet chickens have been replaced. Now I have three grumpy teenage sons.
I dare not waste my time with these precious teens mourning the little boys they used to be. No, there are so many wonderful things about teens. I must soak up ever glower and exasperated utterance of, “Mom!”
Therefore, we begin with forced family time. I warn them ahead, “This evening, we are going to play a game as a family. So, get your homework and computer playing done before dinner because after dinner you have to be with us.” There were many teenish groans, but they prepared themselves for having to be with their dreaded parents. Then I shooed them off their computers and sent them over to the camp lodge. A fire crackled in the stove and an epic board game waited on one of the tables. Once everyone had been forced into a seat at the table, I curled up on the couch in front of the fire. With a good book and my furry friend warming my feet, I smiled and listened to them bicker with their father.
Scruffy was finally teaching them Twilight Imperium IV. Yes, this complex space opera adventure is the ultimate table top gaming experience according to many board game geeks. It is baffling and complex and takes FOREVER to play! This session took ten hours. No, we did not force our delightfully grumpy teen sons to sit for ten hours straight, although I have watched people do so at CamasCon our boardgaming retreat. We broke it up into four or five nights.
Once the boys sat down with their dad, knowing that they were not allowed to escape this terrible time together, something amazing happened.
The sighs, rolled eyes, mumbled sentences like: “This game is far too long,” and “I could be fighting dinosaurs right now,” ceased and they settled down and focused on how to totally cream their father.
They attacked each other’s planets, made highly suspect “non-binding alliances,” and formed fleeting trade agreements with their brothers. I read silently by the fire, soaking in the rowdy conversations and gasps of betrayal that filled the room.
I will only have these delightful young men in our tiny home for a few short years. Every moment is priceless. Time together is worth the grumbling and groaning. It is good for them to hang out with their parents for an evening. To learn to play an incredibly complex board game. To know that their mom loves to be around them, even when they’re grumpy. Family time, forced or not, is the best.
Thank you Lord for a beautiful evening together.