SmileNotes this month is about how to a) live forever and b) play professional football! Bear with me as these two points will come together before the end (I hope) and will bring a smile to your face!
I once almost became the first female to play professional football. In 1979 I was the Director of the Dallas Police Department's First Offender Program and was counseling a 14-year-old boy whom I'll call Jack. He had been taken into custody for theft by the police. He was with some other boys and together they had stolen something from a store.
The first time that I met with Jack and his mother I sensed true remorse on his part. His mother was distraught and tearful and was unsure what to do to make sure that this never happened again. She told me that she was rearing five children by herself by working long hours cleaning houses. She had already given Jack a consequence for his actions, but was unsure if that was enough because she was shocked that it had even happened in the first place. She told me that her children knew right from wrong and that he knew better than to steal.
Jack was a quiet boy who would have trouble speaking up for himself. So I worked with him on managing negative peer pressure and with his mother on helping boost his self-esteem among other things. He did very well and I closed him from the program six months later.
A year later I bought a new house and found myself having difficulty planting trees and doing some of the heavier yard work. After clearing it with Jack's mother, I called him and asked if he would like to do some work for me on Saturdays. We arranged a financial agreement and I agreed to provide transportation and lunch. He seemed thrilled to make some needed money and I was happy to have his help.
An event happened on one of those Saturdays that caused Jack and me to have a serious discussion. I left him in my backyard while I went to the nursery to get more mulch. I was gone only 15 minutes, but upon my return found the police at my home questioning Jack. It seems one of my neighbors had seen him alone in my backyard and called the police suspecting he was a burglar. I do appreciate my neighbor watching out for me, yet it became clear that had Jack not been of a different race than I was, that call might never have been made. Jack did an admirable job talking to the officer prior to my arrival and I told him so. We then had a frank talk about race'the good, the bad, and the ugly. I think our friendship was deepened that day. He continued working for me all that summer.
Time marched on and I often wondered how he was doing. Fast forward ten years and I was surprised to receive a phone call from a person with a deep voice I didn't recognize. It was Jack! He told me that he had seen a colleague of mine and asked for my number. We had a delightful conversation about his work, his mother, and his daughter. He also told me about his excitement to be trying out as a free agent for the Dallas Cowboys football team.
It seems that during high school he became an excellent football player. There were no funds for college, however, so he got a job instead. He kept in shape by working out and playing football with friends. One of those friends was a running back for the Cowboys who encouraged him to try out for the team as a free agent.
Jack told me, 'Sharon, if I make the team, you'll be playing on the field with me because without your help I'd have never got this far.' Well, I doubt that, but I was deeply touched by his comment. It's rare for anyone to make a professional team through free agent tryouts and Jack did not make the cut. But this is how I almost played football for the Cowboys!
Oh, how to live forever? Anytime we help someone, we actually become a part of them. And when they help someone, we're still a part of that process. And so on' and so on.
P.S. You might want to check out my other column, 'The Counselor's Corner,' on peer pressure and how to tone down societal pressures that encourage kids to grow up too fast.
Copyright ' 2014- 2014, Sharon Scott. No reproduction without written permission from author.