Summer adventures are easy when children are young. As long as you work around naptime, all you need is a diaper bag packed with extra snacks and you're ready for adventures. The park is so wonderful that they never want to leave. The zoo is as exciting as going on safari. Rain is just an extra toy. Everything is fun, fun, fun. And then it happens. Your happy, smiling, giggle monster becomes a teenager. A silly one minute and sullen the next minute teenager. A teenager who thinks that summer vacation means sleeping until noon followed by being chauffeured around with friends every evening. A teenager who weeps at being forced to join the family on an outing when she wanted to be with her boyfriend instead. A teenager who thinks the zoo is bo-o-o-ring.
There are a few tricks to having happy teens. Tricks that are worth the effort, because happy teens = happy moms. The easiest way to ensure teen happiness is to include one of their friends on outings. What was "baby stuff" is suddenly fun when you have a friend along to be immature with you. If I could, I would have each of the teens' invite a friend to live with us for the entire summer. Groups of teens are funny. Other ways to leverage the odds against cranky teens include letting them sleep late and always having popcorn in the pantry. Never underestimate the value of bribes for teenagers. Remember the words, "If you _____, then I will drive you to _____." Through much trial and error, we have discovered one activity that pleases our entire family, from the preschooler to the college student. Everyone loves going to the drive-in. Of course, they love it more if they have a friend along.