(I am saving the Christmas gratitude post for my next column. This is the holiday kvetching post. It ought to have “first-world problems” as a hashtag. You've been warned.)
Where do your teens and tweens hang out when they aren't in school? Is there a hidden roller-skating rink or an ice rink where everyone goes on Friday or Saturday nights (or Saturday afternoons, perhaps)? Is there a park or promenade that adolescent flaneurs like to stroll?
I'm asking because I have two teens and a tween who are relatively new to the area, and — even with school and some extra-curricular activities — they are bored out of their minds. This means they are driving me out of my mind.
Surely you've got some places where my tween and teens can safely loiter and encounter members of their peer group in an unstructured setting?
To give credit where credit is due, Alexandria, I am impressed by your after-care options for kids. The Power On and Campagna Center programs provide secure, welcoming environments for elementary-school children at affordable prices. Your community centers host great enrichment activities as well as offering somewhere safe to play and hang out.
But once the kids get to an age where they're ready for a little more independence, what do you have for them? There are lots of neat places to stroll in Alexandria, true, but I don't see groups of teens wandering them.
My apartment looks like we just moved in. It's embarrassing. I can barely find the Christmas tree, let alone decorate for the holidays. But any time I get up a head of steam and start cleaning — or baking, or preparing gifts — my bored adolescent horde discovers a thousand reasons why I need to stop what I'm doing and take them someplace else.
These guys even get revved up about going to get the laundry from our preferred wash-and-fold place, that's how bored they are.
(We can have a separate conversation about my parenting skills. Yes, I know I need to make them responsible for more work at home. Yes, I know that togetherness is the best gift I can give them at the holidays or any other time. But right now we are talking about you, Alexandria. Don't try changing the subject.)
With all the talk I hear about development — heck, you've got the time and money to redevelop my neighborhood out from under me — there's got to be some thought going into building or preserving reasonably priced, all-ages activity venues like skating rinks. Am I overlooking something that everyone else knows about?
Please help me out here, Alexandria.