Tweens may be prickly at times, but unlike the younger set, they can usually hold down a conversation, sustain an extended shopping trip without whining (unduly) and even share some of your passions. That’s a good thing, says Gabor Maté, co-author of Hold On To Your Kids (Random House). Tweens rarely respond to direct questions about their lives, he says, but often open up quite naturally when you’re doing things together. Read on for 10 cool activities you might both enjoy.
1. Sale away
For Pam Mandich and her 11-year-old daughter, Mckenzie, of Stouffville, Ont., garage-saling is a Saturday-morning ritual. “It’s the thrill of the treasure hunt,” says Mandich, who browses for old furniture or fabrics while Mckenzie hunts for 25-cent Archie comics.
2. Cook up some fun
Langley, B.C., mom Karen Yip loves to cook ““ a passion that 12-year-old Andrew has recently begun to share. He recently made chicken stew from scratch, with Yip as his unofficial sous-chef. “He was very proud of it, and it gave him a chance to boss me around for a change.”
3. Remember when
“My mom was a raging hippy in Regina in the ’60s,” says Liane McLarty, of Toronto. Her kids, Emma, 11, and Luke, 14, love to hear stories about their late grandma’s Vietnam War Peace Train protest and the raucous parties where Jefferson Airplane was always blaring. “It brings their personal history alive,” says McLarty, “and for me, it’s a way of remembering my mom.”
4. Go wild
There’s something about the great outdoors that brings families closer, contends Blake Johnson, whose Batstar Adventure Tours in Port Alberni, on Vancouver Island, organizes family kayaking and biking tours. “Parents aren’t task-saturated, and there’s no Nintendo for the kids. Next thing you know, everyone is exploring a tide pool…together.”
5. Don’t lego of Lego
“After dinner, when we’ve all got cabin fever, or when there’s a lot of stress in the house, I’ll just throw off the lid on the Lego bin and start to play,” says Barb Crawford of Toronto, mom of two kids aged 13 and eight. “The kids immediately come over. There’s something very therapeutic about building a supersonic laser-firing vessel.”
6. Shake your booty
Once a week, Janet Mitchell and daughter Paige, of Orillia, Ont., tie on hip scarves, then swivel and sway at belly dancing classes. “Paige was 12 when I signed her up,” says Mitchell. “We both like dancing, and this is a good way to get some one-on-one time.”
7. Craft a memory
Nicole Elliott, of Ajax, Ont., works side by side with 10-year-old Brianna to create beautiful scrapbooks. “If we’re arranging pics from a birthday, we’ll talk about what happened that day,” she says. “I get a good take on how she felt.”
8. Tee off
Maureen Murdoch and Bill Smith, of Jasper, Alta., hit the greens with 11-year-old Nathaniel. “He’s learning patience, how to be a good sport and not to take things too seriously. And Bill and I get to golf,” says Murdoch.
9. Read aloud
Montreal father and child psychologist Jeffrey Derevensky takes turns reading non-fiction aloud with 10-year-old Victoria. Their current choice? A book on archaeological finds from regions as wide-ranging as Bolivia and the Middle East. “It prompts discussions about different religions, customs and cultures,” Derevensky says.
10. Toe the line
For Angelika Bullis and daughter Veronica, 13, of Yorkton, Sask., spa visits allow an escape from life with five boys (husband and four sons). “We go about four times a year,” says Bullis. “We swim for an hour in the mineral pool and then get a pedicure and facial. It gives us time to talk about girly stuff.”