Children don't need drugs to be happy

(From The Pasadena Citizen- February 25, 2004)

Although I do not have a child in school, I find the number of drugs found each week in Pasadena schools is alarming.

I graduated from high school in 1987 from a much smaller district than Pasadena Independent School District, but I do not ever remember seeing drugs at school until I was in eighth grade. Today, it seems like kids are getting drugs at a much younger age, which I believe is a problem with society not the schools.

I knew then as I know now that using anything, such as drugs or alcohol, to escape reality is wrong.

I can remember mowing grass to earn money as a kid, and I would have never dreamed of wasting it on drugs for two reasons.

First, I was interested in other things than drugs. I was happy, and I did not need to escape reality.

Second, my father would have killed me. I know now he would not have literally killed me, but at the time I was never quite sure if death would be the end result of my doing something bad. The bluff worked and kept me from going too far over the line by doing things that I knew were prohibited by my parents.

Parents may read this and think "what a terrible life," but I was happy, and I was only spanked, not beaten, when I deserved it.

My parents taught me that there were consequences for my actions, both negative and positive.

One of my finest memories is purchasing a black 10-speed mountain bike, $150, with money I had earned mowing grass.

I had earned the money mowing yards for between $9 and $15 each. Maybe children don't have that kind of opportunity today.

The bicycle is long gone, but the values it represents stay with me.

My parents gave me a tremendous amount of responsibility - allowing me to mow the yards to earn money. The first yard I ever mowed for money was when I was about 12 years old. My parents have told me that they worried about that first undertaking at such a young age, but I can attest it gave me a path in which I learned the value of a dollar. And, the time-consuming task kept me out of trouble.

The yard, which was completely overgrown, took me about four hours to mow in the July heat. But the payment of $15 was worth every bead of sweat.

Over time I learned the value of my time and compared it to items that I thought I needed.

My family went on a vacation, and I saved $200 for the trip. However, when the trip was over, I had only parted with about $40. I could not see spending hard earned money on useless trinkets.

I look at drugs the same way. I can not see spending hard earned money to escape reality for a little while.

All my life my parents made me earn things. I paid half for my first car and bought the second one outright, after a drunk driver crashed my first one. It seems like some children today are not taught responsibility or to take responsibility for their actions, otherwise they would not be making such reckless choices.

I hope if I have children I will be able to give them the insight my parents gave me.

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