The 13-Year-Old Tourist (Vámonos Vol. 14)

I remember feeling trapped at grandma’s house, 13-year-old Casey, trying to figure out how to play Uno by myself. Columbus Nebraska has never been a playground for the rich and famous, but when I was 6 it was great fun. I remember my pre-puberty self digging through dusty crates of old toys, finding my fathers discarded army men or walking around in a “little backyard” that could have fit my house twice over.  But all of the sudden, at 14, this little town wasn’t exciting anymore.

It’s an awkward age. At middle school in the interval between being a kid and a full on teenager, it’s hard to know which childhood things will still be fun and which will feel remedial. Being stuck in the middle can be particularly confusing when traveling.

When you’re a tween, a lot of culture is pointed above or below you. Children’s museums are generally for children a little younger than you, more adult museums can be hard to access, or boring. Historical sites are as interesting as you are interested in them, concerts are often 18 or 21 and over and (in this country) they won’t let you into a bar.

For adults traveling with a kid (or a tween) can have unexpected perks. A kid with a good attitude can lead you to do things you wouldn’t think to do otherwise. Going to a zoo, a carnival or a toy store, but these stops can be the most fun part of a trip.

Adults often forget the things that liked so much as children. And it is during those years between 12-15 that they do that forgetting. As adults, we don’t deal with bullies or peers who would make fun of us.

This week I have the pleasure of hosting my girlfriends little brother who’s in Chicago for Thanksgiving.  He’s staying in an apartment with his mother for most of the trip, but she has a couple of things to do in Chicago and I am the closest thing to a responsible adult that they can find. Trying to think of what to do with him I remembered all the things I loved to do when I was in eighth grade: hanging out at the zoo, the beach, the comic shop, or the conservatory. I was so excited. There are some things I grew out of. I don’t think I will want to sit in the massage chairs at the Sharper Image for an hour like I once did, but for the most part the thought of doing the things I did when I was 14 excited me.

I suppose the trick to traveling as a tween is not getting to caught up with trying to be an adult, the trick to traveling with a tween is to get as caught up as possible with trying to be a tween.

This article was originally published by Extra and is also available on their website.