I have written about my preteen’s opinion on my clothes, my preteen’s scowls, and the always hot button topic: should preteens text. I’ll bet you are wondering what else I will complain about. I’m taking a new tack today. Today I am talking about the helpful preteen.

Our family of five plus two grandparents travelled to England — my homeland. The trip was the subject of much planning in our family. We knew exactly what we were doing all 10 days of our trip. I was excited to show my children where I lived, went to school, and worked.

All was well until the fifth day. On day #5 our trip was derailed by a lack of a rental car. A well-known, world-renowned car rental company did not have cars for us. I’ll let that sink in. That’s right we arrived at the rental car company in a major European city to find that the two vehicles we requested were not available and furthermore that there were no other cars available for 3 to 5 hours.

From this point on our trip was like a series of scenes from Home Alone or Planes, Trains and Automobiles. Enter my preteen.

The preteen without missing a beat volunteered to carry her grandparent’s oversized duffle bag. She helped her grandmother out of taxis and on to and off trains. I never had to ask her to help her grandparents. She helped without reminders.

Since my preteen was so helpful, I was able to focus on my 6-year-old and make sure that I carried all 13 pieces of luggage on and off trains, and in to and out of taxis. Yes, the second part of the trip was as gruelling and difficult as you might imagine.

My teen and kid helped out as well. My teen managed three of the bags all by herself for the trip. My kid was responsible for pushing his grandmother’s walker when she was being pushed in a wheelchair. But it was the help from the preteen that was so remarkable. She stepped up and helped her grandparents without being asked to and continued to help without needing a reminder from me. This preteen needs many reminders to clean her room, get dressed, and brush her teeth.

I returned from the trip with a new and renewed view of my preteen. I will expect more from her now that I know that she is capable of stepping up to a challenge and a task. Preteens are helpful and useful members of the family. Now if I could just get my preteen to do chores willingly wihout scowling.

When not raising a kid, a preteen, and a teen, Jill blogs about raising a kid, a preteen, and a teen at Musings.