We have the goddaughters visiting here this weekend, ages 16 and 12. Times have changed in the nearly ten years since "the boys" Riley, Treat, and Josh were that age and regular guests during the summer. For one thing, every kid has some kind of electronic device, and their attention is very divided. Being away from home does not mean being out of touch with friends or parents and that definitely changes the dynamic of the visit. Truthfully, it's much more challenging to engage them when we are competing with such technology.
We do our best though. One of our favorite activities has always been to go to the pool, and since you can't have a device with you in the water, there's not much else to do but play and talk. And that's how we spent the late afternoon-- playing, yes, but mostly talking, which is the reverse of those hot summer days we spent in that pool with the boys. It actually turns out the biggest difference between this set of house guests and their past counterparts has nothing to do with gadgets.
"If I had to describe myself in three words they would be intelligent, quirky, and caring," said one of the girls out of the blue as we treaded water in the deep end.
"Mine would be funny, silly, and nice," replied her sister in a conversation none of the boys would have initiated ever.