GRAND Magazine - September/October 2008 - (Page 30)

tips on teens The bar mitzvah trips By Al MArtinez Coming-of-age rituals for our grandchildren W The lure of the Big Apple had permeated their lives. e CAll theM the BAr MitzvAh trips even though we’re not Jewish. The ritual began with our own three children and then extended to four of our grandchildren, with one still to go. They aren’t big trips, not to Patagonia or anything like that, but something within the U.S. to get them on a plane or a boat and breathe the air of distant places. This all began in 1972 when I left a newspaper job in Oakland for a newspaper job in Los Angeles and had three months in between with no commitments. So what do you do with time on your hands? You hit the road. We took the kids out of school, rented a camper, and off we went on a memorable 6,000-mile journey that gave our progeny a look at America from New York to the open plains of the Midwest. They’ve never forgotten what they saw and the friends they made. They saw America. That was important. My wife, Cinelli, wanted to offer our grandchildren the same experience, but I had passed the stage of camper vacations with a load of squabbling kids. I prefer the quiet of at least a three-star hotel reached not in a wind-battered camper but in a vehicle more suited to my age and easily shattered spirit. Compromising, we have taken our grandchildren one at a time and offered each a choice of where, within reason, they wanted to go. Travis, the first, opted for Washington, D.C., and we said OK. Like most teenagers, at 14 he was easily bored. He shrugged his way through a meeting with our local representative and was equally unimpressed with the Senate chambers between sessions. Only a few senators were on the floor, making deals, comparing restaurants or dozing in their chairs. Travis’s boredom was beginning to affect me; but before I decided to spend the remainder of the trip in the hotel bar, the Smithsonian snapped him alive to history he could see up close and sometimes touch. One could almost feel the electricity of an attitude change. He became involved with America through its progress from covered wagons to space. By the time we toured the White House, Travis was as one with the monuments of government that dominate the nation’s capital. He made that clear at the Lincoln Memorial when he overheard a woman talking and he turned to us. “Did you hear what she said?” he asked, referring to her conversation. “She said, ‘This is where Forrest Gump was filmed.’ Is that all she thinks this is?” Nicole was 15 and Shana 14 when they decided they wanted to see Manhattan together. The lure of the Big Apple had somehow permeated their lives. Once there, they giggled for just about any reason and told teenage-girl secrets in whispered tones, hiding behind the wall that no adult can penetrate. We tolerated it because we’re grandparents and are accustomed to the actions and attitudes of wild teenagers in an adolescent zoo. Slowly, with the lights of New York shining down on them, they began to change. A Broadway show—Fosse!—with big scenes and dancing in the master’s incredible style was right there in front of them, on stage, and in the storied ambience of one of the world’s most exciting cities. Shortly thereafter, they traded jeans and sneakers for more sophisticated grownup attire and with it seemed to shed the giggles they had carried across the country. They were in dresses and heels at Tavern on the Green, ordering food they had never eaten before; and they were dancing, one at a time, with their 30 GRAND SEPTEMBER OCTOBER 2008

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of GRAND Magazine - September/October 2008

Grand Magazine- September/October 2008
Grand View:Priceless
Isn't it Grand?: Picture Perfect
Winners!: GRANDparent of the Year
Grand Central
Toddler Town:Grand-proofing
Ask Grand:Two Tired
Tips on Teens: The Bar Mitzvah Trips
Just So We Know:BPA Not Our BFF
Full House-Full Heart-Full Time:Confessions of a Backyard Grand
Grandbloggers: It Takes a Village
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?
Family Food = Fun
On the Cover: Nora Roberts A Fine Romance
Everything Was Fine Until You Showed Up
Happy Big Sister Day
Looking Grand:Elementary, My Dear
All in the Family:Pasta, Present and Future
Inspirations:Grandpa's Violin
Grand Bazaar
More to the Story
Grand Finale:Long Ago Under the Sun

GRAND Magazine - September/October 2008