Immediately upon arriving, the boys were off, whilst I got dinner ready. Teen boys move through the world like it's a game of parkour.
As they should.
Run, jump, wander, and risk. That's what teen-aged boys need to do -- and it's exactly what they aren't given enough chances to do in high school. I don't mean in the high-school years, I mean in the place -- in the box itself in which society hath deemed teen-aged boys must be contained.
That's why we came out here, to Hovenweep National Monument, even if it's for a quick 24-hour foray. It's the foray that matters.
Later, the boys stood around the campfire-on-a-pedestal, poking the fire, and talking teen.
"Just think what fire is --"
A dramatic pause while they stare into the fire, and I, sitting in a lawn chair, stare at them.
"It's plasma, dude."
I join in when Webb's friend's new dishwashing job comes up. We discuss kitchen work as a good skill to acquire to maximize their options -- you can work anywhere, and lots of good, cool, beautiful places; make good money; and you get days off to ski, surf, fish, whatever -- fulfilling my ongoing role as anti-career counselor.
(I'm not telling my kids they shouldn't go to college, etc. I'm just saying ... there are options. Maximize them and keep them open.)
Another veering in conversation.
"What's the worst way to die?"
After some debate and brainstorming, the winners were:
- Waking up in a buried coffin
The conversation goes global:
"You know who sucked? Hitler. And Stalin."
"And Dracula," which led to a history lesson -- the teen-ager's biography of the real Count Dracula.
Silence again. The fire gets poked. Stares are cast out toward the darkening night.
"Dude, this is so much better than sitting at home and chillin' watching a movie."
I'm not making this up, I swear. I immediately scribbled it down.
Later, the boys turn to a game of head-lamp chess, while I listen to the Red Sox game on the radio and take in the night, and the growing bubble of light rising from the silouetted reclining face of the Sleeping Ute.
When the moon crests the mountain's ridge, I point it out to the concentrating teens.
The boys look up from playing chess.
"That's so legit."
And that's what teen boys need a lot more of.