16 in the US is a pretty big deal for a kid. It can mean freedom in the form of a driver’s license, but for military kids overseas it may feel like just another birthday. Carson turned 16 in February and it brought no new freedoms behind the wheel of a car. I do hate that for my two teens who will celebrate that big milestone here in Germany, but they get to experience other pretty cool things that kids who don’t live overseas can’t do.
Like go to a concert in Köln with your brothers.
Of our teens, Carson likes concerts the least. Weeks before Carson’s birthday Hayden mentioned a concert he wanted to go to in Köln but because he and Matt had so many on the calendar, we said no. At one point, Bailey also asked if we could make that concert happen but again, we said no, partly because it was on a Thursday night and Matt has a job. When in January, out of the blue, Carson asked Matt about that same concert and Matt said no, for the third time, I got an idea. If this was something Carson wanted to do, maybe I could be the parent to take him and his brothers… Matt didn’t have any problem with that plan so I snuck and asked Hayden if that would be something Carson would like for his birthday. He then told me that that group, Bad Suns, is Carson’s favorite, and his bio on Instagram is their lyrics.
That sealed it for me. This was something fun and unique we could give Carson for his 16th birthday. For Hayden’s 16th, Matt and Hayden took a trip to see John Mayer. Carson decided that a trip to Normandy would be more up his alley so we had already discussed that his “real” 16th birthday gift would be a trip to Normandy once the weather is nicer, so he still has that to look forward to.
We also had a party for him for his friends on his actual birthday, which landed on a Sunday. He chose bowling, dinner at the food court, and then back to our house to hang out. He requested no cake, which hurts my heart a little because I love cake but it was his birthday, so that’s what we did. And also, in keeping with Carson’s personality, I only took one picture and I snuck it… and one of the kids wasn’t even in it so I won’t post it. I really did try to make this a good birthday for Carson, even though Carson didn’t get to get a driver’s license.
But back to the concert:
The concert being on a work night meant I couldn’t leave Anna and Parker behind, so we loaded the Family Truckster and set off for Köln. The intent was to go straight to the apartment and get settled, then for me to show them the train stop nearest our apartment that they’d get off after the concert. I was planning on also showing them the train stop nearest the concert venue that they’d use to get on after the concert, but as the day went on we realized that wasn’t going to happen. We got there in time for me to drop them off at the door of the venue and drive off. I left my three teens in a foreign city to fend for themselves, and to get themselves to an apartment they’d never been to before.
These teens are amazing!
The concert was great and afterward they found the nearest train station, took the correct train the right direction, got off at the stop nearest the apartment where I was snuggled up with the littles…
(The above photos are Hayden’s.)
About the adventure the littles and I had: Once we dropped the bigs off we drove straight to the apartment only to find that while I had been in transit, the hostess had texted me to say she was heading to night class and would be leaving the key with her sister. So we turned around, drove 10 minutes to get the key, then drove the 10 minutes back to the apartment. We were pretty tired by this point.
Parker and I unloaded all the stuff for the night, using the Germany-wide symbol for, “I know this car is illegally parked and YOU know this car is illegally parked but we’re going to ignore that fact while I unload all the things and then I’ll move:” I put on my flashers.
In order to safely get everything upstairs I put Anna on my back in the Ergo, and made two trips up the stairs with luggage for all six of us, plus a bag of groceries because I knew those boys were going to be hungry once they got back to the apartment.
Oh, and as far as the Truckster goes… what a nice treat to have so much space to stretch out in for the drive. There was a slight problem (which I discovered before we left but after I had booked the apartment): street parking is a major problem in Köln as in any downtown area*. Our hosts were kind enough to locate a parking garage nearby that was big enough for our vehicle and just a 10 minute commute from there to the apartment. Once we got the Truckster settled for the night, Parker, Anna, and I got on the train and headed back to the apartment to CHILL!
The next morning Bailey and I took the train together to get the Truckster, put on the flashers, loaded the car, and off we headed for home.
Matt and I are excited to watch Carson continue to mature, to start to really think about what he wants to do with his life, and how he plans to pay for college. We are so honored to be Carson’s parents. Maybe turning 16 is anticlimactic for a teen living overseas but for his parents, it was a big deal and we only hope that he knows just how much we love him.
PS: I even picked the apartment based on this Photo: Carson used to love Star Wars!
I learned a trick about picking apartments in/near cities. If I’m going to have to park it 10 minutes away from an apartment in the city, why not just pick an apartment 10 minutes outside of the city that has plenty of street parking?!? It would have been even more convenient as the trains do go outside of the city. I checked the transit maps and realized that we could have picked an apartment a 10 minute ride outside of the city (making no difference to the teens who were riding the train home that night) but I could have parked just outside the apartment, rather than having to also take a train after parking it.
You live and learn! (And yes, the extra room does make it worth it!)