Trying to get a teenage boy to commit to a plan is not only deeply frustrating it is virtually impossible. It’s like playing the blink game in which you challenge your opponent to blink before you do – mostly it’s impossible to play with a teenager because they’re asleep or too chilled to even tell whether anything is going on behind those eyes and even if they are focused on you for a minute they’re too distracted to ever lose. I don’t think they don’t do it on purpose though – they live their own personal lives like that – all last minute meet ups and change of venues – even birthday plans between mates seem to materialise about an hour before the event. That’s how a lot of them function I guess – or at least I hope it’s not just my son who behaves like that.
I don’t know why I am remotely surprised then that his plans to travel round half the world next month are not exactly coming together. I mean I’m certainly not going to get an itinerary, let alone an address. At least he’s busy earning the money to support his adventure – working in a pub and coaching football at his old school which is great, but I don’t see any signs of digging wells or teaching English or even shearing sheep looking very likely at this late stage. Just a lot of him randomly mentioning another country – “maybe we’ll go to Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia and then back to Malaysia but I’m meeting some mates in Chiang Mai and then we’ll….” honestly it’s like they’re getting on a bus to go to central London – how will they meet their mates? Where will they stay? The main default setting for the group appears to be about making sure they are in the right place at the right time for The “Full Moon Party” in Thailand (and I suspect that it’s title is more to do with exposing ones buttocks to everyone rather than the natural satellite of the earth).
He’s meant to be off to Australia next month and there are a few friends of mine that I’m sure he can stay with (for a few nights) but I can’t get him to email anybody in advance to find out what dates would be appropriate to visit or indeed if they are even going to be in the country. My suggestion that it would be a teeny bit rude to just appear on the other side of the world is falling on deaf ears. “Don’t worry mum, it’ll be fine….” is not very reassuring – last time I heard that he ended up in a Polish prison. I guess, (as it was with the two Aussie teenagers that recently stayed with me) it will be ultimately down to the parents to do the organising.
Anyway, he’s got retakes coming up very soon now so it’s better if he’s not too focused on the next far more exciting stage of his year. I note that instead of past papers and revision timetables being looked at on Google there are the beginnings of some mobilisation to the cause. The thing is that secretly these teenagers are clever and know that if they leave it long enough somebody else might do the work for them. They are entirely capable in every way when they want to be. Here are the first stirrings of his Gap Year planning taken from my Google history:-
Claiming back your tax when on a gap year
Applying for an Australia visa from the UK (god, watch out Aussie friends – leave the country before it’s too late)
Cheap flights from Australia to Asia
Convert Australian dollars to GB
Cheap beers in Asia (I made that one up but I’m surprised it’s not there).