It actually started some months before Kayte, almost 16, said one night at dinner, “So, Daddy….”
Months before Kayte’s father, Bob, had said to his wife, “I don’t know what I’m going to do. Kayte and I seem to have less and less in common. I feel like I’m losing touch with her. Unless I want to go to the mall, I don’t know how we can spend time together. I miss her.”
Not long after, Kayte said to her father one night at dinner, “So, Daddy, when I turn sixteen, are you going to buy me a car?”
He thought a minute before replying, “Nope. But I’ll buy you the parts.”
“You think we can build a car?” she demanded.
“I know we can.” her dad replied. Bob knew Kayte to be a mechanically inclined person, good with her hands. What he didn’t know was whether or not such a lengthy project would prove too daunting, whether her interest and drive would last long enough to see it through. They began an animated conversation about what kind of car she might build. He’d seen kit cars based on VW chassis. She wasn’t too interested in a kit car but really got excited about building a VW Beetle. Their idea was to purchase a couple of beat up Beetles and pool the parts to create one good one.
“Where will we find ones cheap enough to use for parts?” Kayte asked.
“Your big brother is doing distance biking on country roads. Let’s ask him to be looking for one.” Sure enough, he reported back, there were many. They began to await his weekend reports on Beetles, condition and prices.
“Not cheap enough” Kayte would hear her dad reply again and again. Until at last, one night he gave the command, “Tell the guy we’ll buy it!’
“But we haven’t even seen it,” Kayte objected.
“Doesn’t matter,” her dad said. “Right price to begin with. We’ll drive down (three hours) and take a look this weekend.”
That night, the challenge was on. Suffice it to say, it became their common interest for some time to come.
Bob experienced what so many fathers encounter, a widening gap between father and teen child. Like many dads, he used something with which he was familiar to bridge the chasm. Other dads have used camping, fishing, art museums, cooking classes, skeet shooting, music, construction/Habitat building, trains. The key is identifying something that both dad and teen find interesting and then make time to explore it together.