Dear Future Self,
By now your kids (technically our kids, I guess) have hopefully survived all the crazy crap Smith kids do during adolescence — climbing way too damn high in trees, messing around with poisonous snakes whilst visiting grandpa in Alabama, literally playing in the street and thinking having a BB gun war is all fun and games (which, it kind of was, remember? That is until that one d-bag thought it’d be funny to switch BBs for pellets and almost killed your friend).
Hopefully, they’re both healthy and safe with just a few scars to prove they’ve had a good time thus far. Hopefully, you’ve been a good dad and have made it to all your son’s high school football games (here’s hoping he gets your size and not Nina’s!) and to every recital and soccer match your princess daughter has had.
Both your kids are well behaved and mannered, they’re doing much better in school than you ever did and don’t cause too much trouble. They’ve gotten mixed up with a good crowd of their peers and are always home on time — they’ve earned your trust. Now it’s time to prove you trust them.
You have told your kids, no doubt, about the two epic (remember when we used to describe things like that?) trips to Tempe and San Diego your senior year in high school and freshman year in college. Man…how much fun were those trips?! Both were bad ass, but there’s something about the first one…well…it was the first! Firsts are always the most memorable — your first date, your first kiss, your “first TIME” (which, in case she’s reading this, naturally, was with your wife…duh!), your first Major League Baseball game (May 29th, 1995 – Rich Amaral hit a walk-off homer in the bottom of the 12th to beat the Yankees 8-7…on Derek Jeter’s MLB debut, nonetheless!) or any number of first movies in a series (exceptions: Rocky [IV was the best] and Godfather [II, naturally]).
That first trip to the first BCS National Championship Game in Tempe, Arizona made quite an impact on you, remember? You, Sooks (who eventually was your best man at your wedding), Aaron, Blakney, Joe and Lutz got this crazy idea that you’d all pile into a van and drive 1,350 miles from Vancouver, WA to Tempe to watch Florida State play Tennessee at Sun Devil Stadium. Do you remember that? Remember Joe was being recruited by FSU and completely flipped out when they won their final game of the season to clinch a spot in the title game. Do you recall all y’all were in Tacoma in a hotel room watching the game during that trip y’all took to watch the State Championship game at the Tacoma Dome and Joe ran around the hotel like four times yelling something to the affect of “FSU is going to the National Championship Game!”
Remember when that “crazy” idea became a reality?
Why would six sets of legally sane parents let six of their teenage boys drive in a van halfway across country, with zero supervision, to watch a football game?! Crazy, right?! On the surface…maybe so. But not once you look at those of us who went.
Each of us were good kids. We didn’t make trouble. We didn’t stay out *too* late. We didn’t disobey our parents (often, at least). And, when it mattered, we usually did the right thing. We all played football together on the offensive side of the ball (with the exception of Blakney) so we knew if push came to shove, we’d each have each other’s back…we were part of a family. We were all responsible kids who had earned our parent’s trust — this trip was them proving to us that we were trusted.
Remember how much fun that trip was? Remember watching/listening to The Big Lebowski about 100 times on the old VCR machine (remember those?!) that was hooked up to the 10-inch non-flat screen TV in the back of the van? Remember driving through the ice and fog on the Grapevine through Cali? Remember Joe driving 80 percent of that trip with his foot out the window?
Remember how the ASU baseball field was left open and you all got to walk around and check out the field?
And what about the Hooters girls? Remember them?! …of course you do you perv!
And oh yeah, there was a football game, too!
We absolutely had fun, didn’t we? Sure we may have ended up on the wrong street in Phoenix shooting billiards in a pool hall where “por favor” and “gracias” got you further than “please” and “thank you.” And sure, somebody (no names…Aaron!) almost started a race riot by knocking over one of our brothers to the south’s chair and jacket, but it was nothing an apology and a smile couldn’t fix…no harm, no foul (thank God!).
A great time was had by all. Some bonds that were woven during that trip remain as tight today as ever; others, not as much. But the important thing that you need to remember from that trip (and others like it that you took) is that you earned the chance to go on that trip and prove the trust put in you was not misplaced — you, and all your buddies, proved it wasn’t on that trip.
Now the time has come that your boy is of the same age and wants to take a similar trip with his buddies. Ask yourself, has he earned it? Does he treat you, Nina and his sister with respect? Does he (generally speaking) do what you ask of him? Is he a good kid? If the answers are “yes,” then send him and his buddies on their way. You and Nina have done a great job raising a stand up kid and he has earned this trip.
As for your daughter…wellllll…that’s a whole different story…shotguns and chastity belts till she’s 30!
This is what Smitty Sayeth.