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What's a 14 Year Old Boy to Do In NYC???
July 10, 2009 7:38 AM   Subscribe

My 14 year old stepson is bored in New York. What should he do? How about Montreal?

My 14 year old stepson can't think of anything fun to do in New York. I know, I know. Me, I would go to the Natural History Museum. The Museum of Television and Radio. Ellis Island. The Cloisters. I would walk around. I might go swimming at the Y. I might even sign up for a language course.

He has rejected all of these. What other things are there to send a 14-year-old boy off to do by himself? He has no friends in New York, and I'm in Canada.

Also, he'd like to come back and spend some of the summer with us, in Montreal. Aside from the Just For Laughs Festival and La Ronde, what other fun things am I missing for him to do?
posted by musofire to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (36 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Well, there are tons of movies in New York, including foreign and independent movies not generally available elsewhere.

There are museums, which you've mentioned.

There are restaurants.

There are two major league baseball teams and two minor league baseball teams.

Though, if I were him, I'd think Montreal would be more interesting. But, then, I am from New York and so would be predisposed to go somewhere where I have not been much, or not at all.

Perhaps tell him to pick up a copy of Time Out New York. Though there will be a lot of stuff he is too young for (bars, clubs, etc.), there will also be a lot of events listed that are age-appropriate for him.
posted by dfriedman at 7:42 AM on July 10, 2009


He has rejected all of these. What other things are there to send a 14-year-old boy off to do by himself?

I had to curb by urge to get angry at this kid that I don't even know. I took a trip to New York when I was 14 and had the time of my life traveling around on my own.

Then I realized he rejected these because he truly, honestly, desperately does not want to be there. I don't think he will do anything you suggest, because if he wanted to be in New York, he would have either 1) already taken your suggestions and 2) probably figured out awesome things to do on his own. Let him mope.
posted by piratebowling at 7:43 AM on July 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


Do you have an X-Box?
posted by caddis at 7:43 AM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


I know, I know. I'm mad at him, too. However I'm trying to be a good stepparent and give him good choices.
posted by musofire at 7:47 AM on July 10, 2009


I'm not criticizing you or him, honestly. The truth is you did all you can. But he's a 14 year old boy. He's not going to take any more suggestions you give him regardless of how amazing they are. He WANTS to reject offers and just mope. Let him do it. Lord knows I did similar things on family vacations or extended trips to my grandparents at that age. He'll either realize it was a wasted opportunity sometime in the near or distant future, or he will continue to think he spent his time correctly. Either way, there is not much you can suggest that he does that will make him like his situation any more.
posted by piratebowling at 7:55 AM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


If someone's bored in New York City, it's probably not the city but the situation, or just the early-teen mopes. I got to spend a week staying with my 29-year-old cousin in NYC when I was 14 and it was seriously a highlight of my teen years. But I wanted to be there.

I would just continue being a nice, supportive stepparent and let him find stuff to do.
posted by lunasol at 7:56 AM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Another vote for let him mope until back to school. If you can't find something to do in NYC, you're doing it wrong.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:59 AM on July 10, 2009


If he wants to come to Montreal, why not let him? Just know there's a strong possibility that he will be bored and moping around there because, as others have said, he's 14.

There's not a whole lot of information in your question. Who is he with in NYC, his other parent? I'm assuming one parent is with you in Montreal and the other one in New York. What do they think? I know if a child of mine was complaining like that I would look at the relationship with the other parent and wonder what was going wrong. People are not always great for each other at different ages; teenagers can be impossible. Is there a custody reason he needs to stay with that parent or is it possible for him to come back?

Friends are paramount at that age. If he needs to stay in New York, maybe it's possible to sign him up for some kind of day camp, perhaps at one of the museums? He will fight and kick about it - many 14 year olds will fight and kick about anything that disturbs their enjoyable wallowing in sloth and misery - but he might be able to make some friends that way, which would probably go a long way towards making him less miserable there.
posted by mygothlaundry at 8:06 AM on July 10, 2009


IF your bored in NYC i really dont know how he wont be bored in another big city.

With all the museums, nintendo store, Sports teams , amusement parks, league sports and not to mention things within traveling distance on say the LIRR i really dont see how another city he will be less bored in.
posted by majortom1981 at 8:10 AM on July 10, 2009


Maybe he just doesn't how to find all these "wonderful amazing things to do"? You're not born knowing how to take advantage of a city. Keep suggesting things, and help him learn how to find things. At 14 I wouldn't have had the slightest clue of how to find anything to do in NYC. I STILL don't. He'll mope if he wants to, but it doesn't cost you anything to keep try to help him.
posted by amethysts at 8:12 AM on July 10, 2009


Maybe he's telling you he's bored so he can come to Montreal?
posted by heather-b at 8:13 AM on July 10, 2009


He needs a girl. Or at least some friends. Someone to pal around with and drag him out to do stuff. When I was 14, I spent a week hiking with other teens, and a week in London with my parents. London was fun -- I didn't mope -- but it wasn't awesome the way my hiking trip was awesome. I'd have spent the whole summer hanging out in a garbage dump with the friends I made living out in the woods.

Maybe someone else can suggest some places or programs where he could meet other (local) kids his age? Once he has friends there, the rest takes care of itself.
posted by junkbox at 8:13 AM on July 10, 2009


Agree that a) it's probably partially the mopes and b) finding other kids his age will make everything about NYC a heck of lot more interesting. What does he like to do at home? Where are kids doing that thing in New York?
posted by desuetude at 8:21 AM on July 10, 2009


Does he watch Law & Order? When I lived in NYC a friend of my mom's and her son came to visit. The teen was bored for most of the trip EXCEPT when my purse got stolen while we were having lunch and we went to the local precinct to report it. He was in a REAL police precinct! Imagine telling the kids back home in Texas about THAT! So, uh, maybe something like hanging out with police or firemen might be exciting. It looks like this has already started, but maybe if you emailed the NYPD they'd have other suggestions?
posted by MsMolly at 8:25 AM on July 10, 2009


How about the beach? NYC has great beaches!

Programs for teens at local community center? A class?

Volunteering somewhere interesting to him?

Helping with some household project?
posted by mareli at 8:27 AM on July 10, 2009


Whoever mentioned summer camp, that's actually a good idea. Once you're in your teens, there are all sorts of specialized camps (ie, sailing, arts, music, whatever), and it could be a good way for him to meet people (girls) or at least have something to do for 4 hours a day. It'll also get him out in the city, taking the subway, etc.
posted by lunasol at 8:28 AM on July 10, 2009


Friends?
- also doesn't every other 14 year old from everywhere else in the country hate their hometown no matter how big or how small because "there's nothing to do around here" and wish they could move to NYC?
posted by ruwan at 8:31 AM on July 10, 2009


@junkbox, that's exactly the problem. He has no friends in the City, and he doesn't know how to meet them. I'm open to suggestions.

@mygothlaundry: he's with his dad for the summer. We get him during the school year. So staying with us over the summer (Jazz Fest, Just For Laughs fest) probably isn't in the cards.

But I'm not really looking for insight into why he's bored in the most exciting city in the world. I know why he's bored. I'm looking for suggestions that might inspire him to cast aside the moping for a bit and go do something.
posted by musofire at 8:32 AM on July 10, 2009


He needs friends, so I would focus on trying to find community activities he could participate in with people of his age group.
posted by Falconetti at 8:42 AM on July 10, 2009


Does his dad have any friends who have teenagers? If he can meet a few natives they can mope together, hang out in parking lots drinking slurpees, etc...

Is there a possibility of having one of his close (and hopefully outgoing friends) go and visit? Together they'd have fun, and perhaps meet some more kids his age.

How about joining a gang?
posted by consummate dilettante at 8:44 AM on July 10, 2009


Give him 20$ and drop him off in Coney Island for a few hours.
posted by WeekendJen at 8:54 AM on July 10, 2009


This has been said already, but he's not bored because the city is boring or because he's a bad kid. He's bored because he's lonely. New York is great by yourself for a few days, but there's only so long most people can go - no matter where you are - without friends to hang out with. 13, 30, 130 - age is not the factor. Let him go wherever his friends are, if you can.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:58 AM on July 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


I was going to suggest Coney Island as well. It wouldn't solve the missing-his-friends part, but if there are other bored teenagers anywhere in the city, there are bound to be some there.

....Wait, here's an interesting question -- he's with his father, yes? Is his father LETTING him venture places in the city unaccompanied, or do we have a situation where he wants to go do something but his father isn't letting him go by himself or wants to come along, and so then it gets into a whole thing of having-to-have-it-be-a-special-Fun-With-Boring-Old-Dad Family-Bonding thing and so your stepson says "nah, that's okay" and ends up not going?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:14 AM on July 10, 2009


@Empress: his dad works during the day and goes out at night. I doubt he has any objection to the kid going out.
posted by musofire at 9:27 AM on July 10, 2009


This may be entirely WRONG advice here but I'll throw it out anyway. I was stuck with all too typical 14 year old nephew last summer for a week. He didn't want to do ANYTHING except text his friends who lived across town, which I quickly just surrendered to. His life being misspent, not mine.

But then one evening, I let him have a beer and lo and behold, the young man opened up. He actually discussed things intelligently, and with enthusiasm. Next thing I knew, we were renting DVDs (his choices and mine) and watching them together. He'd keep texting all the way through but I found if he really liked something, he'd download it and watch it again (and again, and again) later.

Anyway, this is how the week went. One beer plus a movie every evening. It became something he really looked forward to and, for the record, he really turned me on to 8 MILE and I know I wowed him with APOCALYPSE NOW.
posted by philip-random at 9:30 AM on July 10, 2009


I would have to guess that the lack of friends is a huge part of this. If his father is amenable having a friend from home visit for a week or so would probably help. If he wants to meet kids in NYC his age he is either going to have to have someone introduce him, or going to have to do something in a group, the kind of group where random people who don't already know each other come together. It could be a music class, acting lessons, science class, tennis lessons, anything that puts him into a group that is not so structured that he can not socialize. Even if he doesn't make friends who will hang out with him later the social interaction will ease the boredom. What are his interests? That is where you start.

On preview, if his dad is going out every night and not including him I don't blame him for wanting to come home. If you are not going to spend any time with the boy why bother having him stay with you? (please show his father this comment.)
posted by caddis at 9:36 AM on July 10, 2009


Mmmm...if the problem seems to be basically that he doesn't have anyone to hang out with, then the solution would seem to be to send him to do stuff where he might meet people to hang out with ....depends what kind of stuff he's into, but:

--- TV show tapings. Not sure what's in season, but I believe Letterman, Colbert, and the Daily Show will all be taping over the summer. He has lots of free time so he could get standby tix.

--- Same deal w/ Shakespeare in the park, if he's got any theater geek in him. I tried once already --- to have a real shot you have to get up massively early (be in line btw 5 and 6) and a lot of the people who do are groups of young theater geeks and students. Cute young actors, in other words.

--- Classes. Maybe something in photography or art? Second session at any of the colleges would be filling about now. Cuny, Cooper Union, Pratt --- any of them might have something that would interest him along those lines. Film studies, something.

---If he's more of a jock type then I would look to local youth leagues, or perhaps martial arts and kickboxing gyms. Pick-up b-ball, maybe. There's a famous court in the Village where people just hang out to watch the games, on West 4th and 6th.

--- Or you could just send him down to Washington Sq. Park and St. Mark's place, where the young punks still hang out. I kid. Or at least, I would warn you that Larry Clark cast Kids from just such a location. Although it's mostly NYU kids now.

--- actually, in all seriousness there are a couple chess shops down there as well as park tables where he could pick up a game if he has any interest in that.

--- Free concerts. I believe they're doing a series down by battery park

--- And there's free movies in Bryant park behind the big NYPL every monday. Although the list this year is pretty meh from my perspective, but he might like something.

--- although if he's really determined to think that everything sucks and is no fun, there's not much you're going to be able to do, so don't sweat it. If he wants to be a miserable douche, he can certainly manage that on his own.
posted by Diablevert at 9:37 AM on July 10, 2009


I can kind of sympathize with this. When I was around that age my parents would drop me off with my grandparents in Flushing for weeks at a time during the summer. Fortunately for me, I liked to just wander the city and ride the trains and my family was all right with that. Unfortunately a lot of the time I had to take my little brother along. I also read a lot, I was a pretty big reader back then and NYC libraries are great (even the ones in Flushing). Of course, every evening by dark I was back in my grandparents' apartment with my little brother and a B&W TV.

There's just no way around it. His friends are elsewhere, his toys, bicycle and probably video games are elsewhere. He's the new kid and everybody knows he is a short termer. In that situation a normal kid that age is going to feel kind of bored a lot of the time.
posted by lordrunningclam at 9:40 AM on July 10, 2009


Maybe he'd like to learn the guitar? A summer is good time to be obsessed with a musical instrument.
posted by pipti at 10:00 AM on July 10, 2009


p.s. I'd bet there are music classes for teens SOMEWHERE in the city, or, if he gets a teacher, the teacher could tell him where regular, open-to-the-public jams are happening.
posted by pipti at 10:04 AM on July 10, 2009


Could a friend of his from home visit for a week? I'd think they might go out together, do some stuff, maybe meet some other kids his age, and then he might keep it up on his own after that.

In contrast to everyone else, I think his circumstances sound objectively miserable, and he's not just "moping." I wanted to be with my friends constantly at that age. I guess the other commenters here were very self-sufficient at 14, but if I were in a strange city with no friends and alone in an apartment all day and night while my dad worked and went out without me, I'd be lonely and miserable. I wouldn't say, "Hey, I'll just grab my subway map, go to a museum, and walk up to a group of similarly aged New Yorkers and introduce myself!" Nope, I'd sit in the apartment all day and read. Then I'd complain.

Good for you, step-dad, for being understanding and constructive here. I think that means a lot to him, and if you were to be dismissive of the rough time he's having, it would be hurtful and unfair.
posted by palliser at 11:22 AM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


What does he like to do? If you sent him a decent camera and set him up with a blog account would he roam around and take pictures? Otherwise, I'd see about signing him up for a few classes or urban camps where he can make some friends.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:27 AM on July 10, 2009


It is HARD to be as motivated as you might be at 24 or even 18 on your own in a city you don't like, for months. Does he have a guidebook to the city, or is he just sort of taking one-off suggestions?

What's he into in school? If he's a history/art/drama/science/anything... buff, there's probably some amazing stuff he'd like to check out that the general public might not be into so much. As a geography/history nerd, visiting the Cloisters blew my mind, so perhaps there's something he LOVES studying/learning about that he could check out in NYC.
posted by mdonley at 11:45 AM on July 10, 2009


In contrast to everyone else, I think his circumstances sound objectively miserable, and he's not just "moping." I wanted to be with my friends constantly at that age. I guess the other commenters here were very self-sufficient at 14, but if I were in a strange city with no friends and alone in an apartment all day and night while my dad worked and went out without me, I'd be lonely and miserable. I wouldn't say, "Hey, I'll just grab my subway map, go to a museum, and walk up to a group of similarly aged New Yorkers and introduce myself!" Nope, I'd sit in the apartment all day and read. Then I'd complain.

Yeah, ditto. At fifteen or so, I started taking the train into Greenwich Village to wander around--but only ever with friends. What fun is going to the punk and sex shops on St. Marks if you don't have people to giggle with about stuff there?

A lot of the suggestions listed here are options only available to adults (TV show tapings, for example) or things that are greatly enhanced by both company and money, especially at fourteen. I'd send him books, and maybe a nintendo ds. That would keep him busy for awhile, whether he's got friends along with him or not.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:36 PM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Is there anyone in NYC on here who has kids his age? Can someone hook him up with some mates to hang out with? He needs someone who can introduce him to the fun, which isn't art, museums, parks, blah.
posted by Lleyam at 2:49 PM on July 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Could the parent take a couple of hours to help the kids learn to get around by himself? Subways, etc. Some kids, at 14, would be totally ready for that, some wouldn't.

He might enjoy a tour of edible plants Central Park:
http://www.wildmanstevebrill.com/

Intrepid Musuem (it's an aircraft carrier!)

They just re-opend the crown of the Statue of Liberty.

NY Hall of Science?

Have him watch Night at the Musuem and then to to the Museum of Natural History.

Transit Museum.

Hayden Planetarium was at the center of Pluto's recently being de-frocked of planethood.

Get (free) tickets on the Letterman show.

The 92nd St. Y has tons of activities.

Watch, and imitate, the roller skaters in Central Park going thru the cones (near tavern on the green).

Lots of revolutionary war history there. Have him read McCullough's 1776 - the episode where Washington is retreating up the west side of Manhatten while the British are a mile east advancing on lower Manhatten is hair-raising!

Brooklyn's Children's Musuem.....

I'll stop there, but I'm just getting started....

One more.... top of the Empire State Bldg
posted by at at 2:57 PM on July 10, 2009


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