I eagerly await Tuesdays because I know another quintet of writing prompts will arrive in my in-box from Mama Kat and I will then visit http://www.random.org/ to be "assigned" a prompt for the week. This week's assignment, "describe a time when someone was proud of you," seemed deceptively simple until I tried to pick a topic. Although I do write about myself a lot in my blog, it's usually slanted toward some problem that I am struggling with or some future goal I want to achieve.
I thought about what makes me proud of my children. I was certainly proud when Tenley won the Level Four State Gymnastics Championship in 2006. I am proud every day that Wayne Kevin manages to comb his hair (personal hygiene is always an issue with this 11 year old boy!) as well as his accomplishments including being a lead in Ariya Watty's 2009 BFA Thesis film, Highway. In the long run, though, it's the quiet personal choices that a child of mine may make that will mean more than a trophy or medal (or tangle-free hair). Which gets back to me.
In the early 1980's, the driver's ed curriculum at Union County High School included some truly awful (gory, terrifying, alarming, poorly acted, poorly produced) driver's education videos. They were so bad that it was comical, but they also stuck in your head, especially when you were a 15 year old driver-to-be. (This New York Times Review references a documentary (Hell's Highway) about these "masterpieces.")
I took Driver's Ed in the summertime. Around the same time, my family attended a get-together at the home of friends, and I was invited out by the children of these friends to go for a drive. The "children" were older than me (18, 19, 20) and I didn't know them especially well. (It is also important to note for the purpose of this story that I was quite naïve and, to put it like it was, a moral goody two-shoes.) I was up for an adventure and a change of pace, so I agreed to join the outing.
Off we went, southeast on Highway 100 headed toward Keystone Heights (about a 30 mile drive). As we got to Keystone Heights, one of the car's occupants announced we were heading to the airport (in North Central Florida, an "airport" on a weekend evening is guaranteed to be pretty desolate). Next thing I know, one of the occupants in the front passenger's seat checked the glove compartment and I discovered that there was "precious cargo" of the cannabinoid kind. Hmmm. This was the kind of thing that had led to those dashed hopes and severed limbs in the drivers' ed films. Hmmm. What to do?
I freaked out (silently).
This was before the age of cell phones. What to do (again)? We stopped at a convenience store and I found a pay phone and called home. I explained to my parents what was going on and they agreed to come get me. My memory of the rest of the evening is a little fuzzy. Did the group go on to the airport to "fly high"? What did I tell them? That I wasn't feeling well or that the Union County High School drivers' ed curriculum foretold the risk of a grisly death for them?
What I do know is that when I tell my kids that they can always call me if they feel like they are in danger due to the behaviors of others around them (or behaviors they have chosen to engage in), I will pick them up in a heartbeat. And I'll be proud that they asked.
My parents did a great job of driving the values home.