Yes this is pretty much how he responds to me when I want to talk to him
How do I find common ground with my preteen grandson? For that matter just finding common ground with any of my grand kids has left me wanting.
I don’t want to just be grandma, the old lady that always wants a hug and a kiss. Of course here in Hawaii that is a given. Regardless of age, you would not dare enter a room without giving your kupuna (elder) a hug and a kiss. That type of respect is ingrained from day one.
I want to communicate. I want to discuss, to ignite conversation and encourage my grandchildren to experience life beyond cell phones and games.
Two of my grandsons love photography. One lives about 20 miles away and I rarely see him. The other, Nico, lives in the same house as I do. Our communication has been limited. “What’s for dinner?” “When are we leaving for school?” “Why did you pick me up so early from school? I was still talking to my friends.” And last, but certainly not least, “Good night grandma, I love you.”
So Nico gets a Camera for his 12th birthday. He no longer has to take photos with his phone, he now has a DSLR!
Here we go, the common ground! “How would you like to go on some adventures like when you were younger?” I ask him. Quickly I add, “I mean we can go to different places to take photos.” So far, he has used his cell phone to take photos of buildings as he drives by, photos of feet, close-ups of his dog and things around the house. Fun photos I admit, but his area is limited.
To my great surprise he says, “Yes!” I suggest a drive to Haleiwa, ( where else?), we can go in the evening and photograph the sunset. The date is set and surprise again, he reminds me that morning about our plan.
As we get ready to leave he heads out with his camera bag. I start to tell him that I would rather he put his camera around his neck, and he pulls a face on me and starts to get grumpy. So I let it go.
When we get in the car I tell him to let me know if there is something he wants to photograph along the way. Out comes his phone and before I know it he is deep into YouTube.
Unfortunately his phone arrives with him. Notice his camera is now around his neck. “Sort of late,” I tell him as people will notice that we put his camera bag in the trunk. “Oh well,” I think to myself, live and learn.
I try to call him over to explain about the two Hawaiian flags. How the Hawaiians were forced to take down their flag and put up the American flag. He is having none of it.
When we arrive at the beach he wants to know how long are we going to have to wait for the sun to set. I feel like he is the kid in the back seat of the car asking “are we are there yet?” I tell him, “Look around you. The mountains are behind us and the clouds are setting on them. You can photograph that.” Too late, his phone is back in his hands.
At last he exchanges his phone for his camera and is starting to take photos. I think to myself had he been dressed all in white he would have blended right in with the windmill farm behind him.
The sun is setting quickly and I’m not sure if he is still taking photos but I don’t want to miss it. This view was worth the hassle, and I marvel at the fact that it is now past 7 pm and the weather is still nice enough to be out in the ocean swimming. I want to tell Nico to try to get some people in his photos but I push that out of my thoughts. He will do what he wants to do.
After the sun has gone down he shows me his photos of the sand, his name in the sand and photos of things around. I did see one really nice sunset photo but he was clicking through his images so quickly that I’m not sure.
I snap one last photo of the sun going down
I say goodby to the shack and beach where “Bay Watch” was filmed.
Maybe one day he will let me show him how to put his photos onto the computer so that we can see them together. I won’t hold my breath though.
As we head back home I resign myself to the fact that I have once again failed to communicate with him. “Nico, we don’t have to do this anymore I know you did not enjoy it.” But he surprises me and says he really did enjoy it and wants to do another adventure again. Wow! Communication at last.
He pulls out his phone and down the road we go.