A Simple Canoe Trip

Tomas is off today on a “simple” canoe trip. Heading off in Northern Maine for a three night/four day adventure with the other young men in our church. They’ll be traveling about 40 miles, from what I’m told. He left at 6:30 this morning and won’t be back until Saturday.

I don’t think I ever did a single campout trip with a youth group growing up. I went away to summer camp quite a few years, but in terms of your standard “bunch of boys going camping,” that never happened. Tomas has now done a few of them, and I’m happy for him to have the opportunity.

It’s funny. When he was younger and I thought about camping trips, my initial plan had been that I would go with him on all of them. I thought it would be important that I could be there to supervise and make sure everything was okay. But as he grew older and I thought about it more, I changed my way of thinking. It became more important to me that he begin to learn to operate on his own. Independence was a bigger goal than supervision, and if it came at the cost of some mild stupidity on the side, then that was a price worth paying.

The ultimate goal of any parent, I believe, is to raise your kids to the point where they can leave your house and become fully functional adults who can live and be happy and successful without your help. Getting to that point can be difficult and painful, but it’s important to always keep that goal in mind.

So when Tomas was about ready to head off this morning, I gave him the following advice: “Don’t do anything stupid.”

That didn’t feel like quite enough, however. So I decided to define “stupid” for him. “And when I say stupid, I mean if you’re about to do anything, and you think to yourself, “This isn’t the best idea I’ve ever had, and this could really go wrong,” then don’t do that. That’s the stupid thing I’m telling you not to do.”

I almost did a really stupid thing that fits that definition perfectly in college. I lived in DT, and our floor was having a bit of a feud with the floor of a building right across from us. They were posting insults to us in our windows. We were posting insults back.


So we tried to figure out a way to really get even with them. The idea, in the end, was to take paint balls and a slingshot and plaster the outside of their windows with paint. A friend had the paintballs. Another friend figured out how to open our permanently locked  windows, and I had the slingshot.

The night came. We had everything set. I had the paintballs locked and loaded in my slingshot, and I was all set to rain fluorescent fury down on those windows. And then I stopped, looking at the situation. This seems like a really bad idea, and something I could get in a fair bit of trouble for, I thought to myself.

But all my friends were there, egging me on. Encouraging me to go through with it. A fair bit of pressure.

Which I stood up to. I shook my head in the end. “This is a bad idea,” I said. “Let’s not do it.”

See? I can actually make reasonable decisions, every now and then.

Here’s hoping Tomas can do the same . . .


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