A few days ago I took my two younger kids out to a local baseball field to throw the ball around.
My 11-year old son loves the game.
My six-year old daughter loves EVERYTHING.
While we were on the field, I saw a bunch of local high school runners doing their afternoon trot around the park.
At one point, I did a major league double take when I saw a young man who looked EXACTLY like the long lost twin of a boy that I went to high school with.
26 YEARS AGO!
Jeff was a runner too.
We were pretty close friends at the time. So much so that I ended up visiting him at his Ivy-league caliber college before he started his freshman year.
I remember that trip, because it was the first time I spent an extended period of time away from home, the first time I learned of life on a college campus and the first time I saw a bong.
Now considering this brave new world that we live in now, most kids probably don’t even make it to high school before seeing some type of drug paraphernalia.
Or perhaps I was a little sheltered.
When it comes to life, I’m a pretty liberal person.
But when it comes to my life, I am A LOT more conservative.
I have no problem with you ruining your life, just don’t ruin mine.
Over time Jeff and I drifted apart.
We had a bunch of mutual friends and through the years I heard that he ended up with some serious issues.
He was never able to hold a steady job and was actually homeless at one point.
At last check, he was unemployed and living at home with his parents.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not judging anybody, but considering where we all thought Jeff would go with his life, this wasn’t it.
During my own college days, I spent a lot of time with friends.
Even the ones who did drugs.
I can remember sitting there watching my “friends” do lines of cocaine across a table the size of New Mexico.
They would always offer. I would always decline.
It never dawned on me that if the police knocked down the door, I’d be going to jail too, even with clean bloodlines.
Fortunately that never happened.
From the time I was yay high, my father drilled it into me that drugs are bad.
I know that sounds like a cliche, but to my dad it was that simple.
And he had a good reason to come to that conclusion.
One of his best friends was blessed with three sons.
Unfortunately his sons were cursed with heroin addiction.
Son #1 died of an overdose. Then son #3 died of an overdose.
Say what you want about heroin being different than “just” smoking a joint, but to my dad it didn’t matter.
Drugs, by any name, ruined the life of his friend.
I’ve tried to be as open as possible with my kids about the subject.
Thanks to our mutual love of music, we listen to everything from James Taylor to Taylor Swift.
Of course EVERY time Janis or Jimi or Nirvana or, well you get the idea, comes on the radio, I make sure to tell the kids about the final chapter in that autobiography.
When all is said and done, my kids are going to make their own decisions.
All I can do is try to prepare them.
Whenever I can.
Like today at the grocery store when my son saw a new tabloid and asked who Corey Haim was.
We spoke for a few minutes about that story and then I asked, “why do you think people do drugs?"
Now even though he hadn’t figured out that answer, yet, he certainly impressed me with his follow up.
“You get one life. You can throw it away or do something useful.”
I'm praying he does the second one.