Sunday, July 24, 2005

Should I take my kid to Warped Tour?

I’ve been having an email exchange for a while with another mom. She’s still not sure about taking her kids to Warped Tour. She’s very much like I was back in 2002. She keeps going back and forth.

She’s also a Libra. Now, I’m not a big believer in this whole astrology thing, but one thing about us Libras – we can’t make decisions if our lives depended on it. It’s incredible. We’ll have a million and one opinions about everything, but don’t ask us which restaurant to go to for dinner.

Obviously I’m very pro taking your kids to Warped Tour. Actually, I’m very pro taking your kids places they want to go, especially when they’re at the ages when they’re pulling away. The biggest reason is because they’ll remember it when they’re grown up.

Here’s a story I remember about being 15.

I was nuts about horses. Absolutely, positively nuts. Anything and everything about horses, I loved. And I loved horse races. Not so much the races part, but the horse part of it. I used to keep lists of the horses that were winning at the race track. I’d keep lists of which jockeys rode which horses. I’d keep lists of what the track conditions were like. Yes, I was a little obsessed, but I was also trying to teach myself how to make a database for a school project, and figured the task would be easier if I was using data I was interested in.

After a few months of doing this, I was convinced that if I went to a racetrack, I’d win money. I asked my dad to take me. He kind of laughed, said it was a waste of money, only losers gambled, etc. etc. etc. But I kept begging. So finally he gave in. Our relationship was a little strained at the time, and I think he thought if he did something I wanted to do, it would bring us closer.

When we came home with $2,517 more dollars than we went there with, it did.

I think even if my database hadn’t worked, if I had been dead wrong on each horse I bet on instead of dead right, it still would have been a good thing for the two of us.

He did something he didn’t want to do, just for me. He gave up a whole Saturday, when he didn’t have many free Saturdays, to do something just for me. Something that meant a lot to me, and something he thought he’d hate.

Our first race, he bet the smallest amount, even though I knew the horse/jockey combo was a done deal. When we won, he bet a little higher the next race. And a little higher the race after that. By the end of the day, we were betting all of our money. It was great to see him get so excited. He really got into it. He was really interested in how I was picking the horses. He was really curious about how I gathered my data. For a whole day, we had something to talk to each other about. And for months afterwards, he bragged about me to anyone and everyone, and told the story ad nauseum at family dinners.

I never forgot it.

It meant a lot.

Was it the end-all be-all change in our relationship? No. I was 15. We still had years of fights ahead of us.

But it was something I remembered. It was something I knew he did just for me.

And it’s a story that now I tell ad nauseum at family dinners. Along with the stories of taking the kids to Warped Tour.

It means a lot to them. Let them go. They’ll remember it forever. They'll remember you did it just for them.

P.S. For any kids reading this, and I know you're out there, there's a flip side of this story too. For years my dad asked me if I wanted to play golf with him. I kept saying no. In all fairness, after years of losing at Monopoly and Chess to the man, I felt I had no self-esteem left for him to destroy. But now that he's gone, I honestly regret that I didn't let him teach me. I should have played golf with him. It would have meant a lot. It would have been something I did just for him. So if your parents want to do something that means a lot to them, bite the bullet and say yes. When they're not around anymore, you'll be glad you did.


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