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Wisdom: Alexandra Florence

North Shore, Oahu

I always saw my kids as little buddies. I wasn't really grown up yet when I had them. I was still kind of a kid myself. Being able to go to the beach and be outside all the time when they were little definitely made it easier to raise them.

It helps to have a guardian angel. Things seemed to fall into place for me when I arrived on the North Shore. It was still a bit of the Wild West there when I showed up and yet I never felt threatened or alone. I met a lot of uncles who looked out for me. Real and good people. Later they would become positive influences on my children.

There are so many positive people on the North Shore. I've always been so grateful. The boys had incredible surfing and skating mentors from a young age. Herbie Fletcher, Jay Adams, Buttons, Matt Archbold, Marvin Foster—those are just a few of them. I feel lucky and proud that the boys have been able to know them.

Some kids are just like little adults. Many of the boys' friends were grownups. Their grownup friends just happened to be great athletes and watermen who not only showed them about the ocean, but also about having respect.

Kids are going to follow their own interests, even if it puts them in danger. I was never really scared when John started surfing Pipeline because he did it gradually and was careful. We had the advantage of living right in front of Pipeline, and there were a lot of summers fishing and diving there. The boys knew the area well by the time they were out there in anything of consequence. However, I'm always worried for them when the waves are big. Pipeline can be a scary place in winter.

Teenagers are like giant babies that want to do all the things that you tell them are bad. Being a parent to teenagers is incredibly difficult.

“Hawaii will spit you out if you don't belong here; that's just how it is.”

"Put your head down and keep marching on like a soldier." This was my dad's advice after I'd had the boys. It was definitely a struggle at times, and I'd have to sit down at the kitchen table and think, "OK, I've got three little people to take care of," and make lists of how I would be able to pull this thing off. But we persevered.

Every mother wants her kids to be in a safe environment. I'd have roommates when the boys were young to help with the rent, and sometimes they'd be guys on Tour. I'd lay down no-partying rules and set a curfew. It was a super-wholesome situation for these guys. Their moms would often write me to say thanks; they were worried about their sons too.

As a parent, there are three bottom lines: You have to watch your kids like a hawk at all times—but don't let them or others know it. Find and trust your instincts. Have eyes in the back of your head.