Mentoring a Teenager: Decorating our Mailboxes

This summer, I was asked by the kiddo of a friend of mine to be their mentor, “Just be a positive adult role model that I can do things with.” That seemed easy enough, and for the most part, it has been. We spend nearly every Sunday together, and we do all kinds of fun things. We have volunteered for hiking trail cleanups, seen documentaries examining institutionalized racism, gone to farmers markets, clothing swaps, and backpack giveaways for students. In the course of these activities, we’ve talked about everything from TV to teenage angst, which brings with it many real and serious issues. I’ve learned a lot more about the kid I’m mentoring, and a surprising amount about myself, as well.

It occurred to me that it might be a good idea to start sharing some of our Sunday activities, in case you’ve got a teenager, live in Austin, or both.

This weekend, we chose to upgrade our mailboxes, inspired by a post from Lolly Jane. I copied the modern honeycomb-themed project nearly exactly, and the kiddo (with permission from their parents) did their own thing, choosing ombré polka dots, and a glittery yellow mailbox flag. It actually suits their hippie house (complete with VW bus in the driveway) very well!

The project actually started last Wednesday, when we stopped into our local craft store looking for hexagon stencils, and also picked up several cans of spray paint. We probably spent $45 and a couple of hours shopping.

Today, we got started in the early afternoon, solving problems of masking and stenciling together, and generally having a good time. We talked about potential careers, and we’re each starting to formulate some goals for 2018. It’s fun to see what we have in common, so that some of our outings can support our mutual goals. We stopped and went for lunch, and the kiddo, who will be turning 15 soon, inquired as to whether the location might hire students with work permits. There’s a big school trip abroad to save for, so I understand why earning might be a priority at present.

Then, back to the mailboxes, which both ended up being perfectly imperfect, in my opinion. Working with stencils is hard! The finishing details came together at sunset, just in time for us to snap a few photos and call the family out to see them. They “oohed” and “ahhed” appropriately, and we all enjoyed the sunset together before I got in my little car and came back home. Today’s part of the project took about 5 hours, including lunch and cleanup time. It flew by, and I don’t think that was bad at all, since we did two mailboxes.

We aren’t sure what we’re doing next week, but seeing as how it’s already December, don’t be surprised if it turns out to be something holiday-related!

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