It’s a Friday Night in Mid November. Date night for my wife and I. We’re heading out with some friends for the evening at a new little bistro in a cool part of town; a part of town where parents of young children don’t usually hang, but hey, we’re cool, well, my wife is cool anyway, and I can drive. We’ve been looking forward to this since Monday morning at 4:45am when the alarm catapulted us into the work week.
It’s 7pm, there’s a knock at the door, and my savior, ahem, sitter has arrived.
“Kerri? You’re watching the kids tonight?” I say in disbelief.
Kerri is my favorite. She plays with the kids, not a movie watcher, makes them do crafts, cooks up some dinner when needed, has bailed us out at the last minute many times, and is always so polite. Kerri is the perfect babysitter. She’s a great kid.
But, Kerri is in her first year at West High. And, tonight, West hosts their intra-conference rival in the Missouri State Football Quarterfinals. From our back deck, one can hear the band, see the lights, even smell the B-B-Q as the fans started tailgating for this one at 4pm for the 7 o’clock kick off. This is as close to West Texas and big time High School Football as Missouri gets. Two big schools, a lot of collegiate-athletes-to-be on both rosters, and a crowd estimated at around 8,000 expected to witness this Monster Match-Up.
Kerri enters our house and stares out our back door at the Friday Night Lights that are shining over this little niche of suburbia.
“Kerri, when did you agree to watch Cooper?” I ask, feeling really badly that we’re keeping her from the social event of her first year of High School. And, to make matters worse, we can hear the PA Announcer from our living room. The game is underway.
“You know what. Don’t answer that.” She goes on to tell me that she just wasn’t thinking, and admits to me that she called a friend of hers that lives in our subdivision that has babysat for us before, but does not go to West High. But, the backup plan had plans too.
I stare at Kerri. Kerri stares out the back window. I stare at Cooper. Cooper stares at his Scooby Doo football. I stare at Danielle. She smiles at me. My wife and I are always on the same page. I love that part of our marriage.
“Kerri, get out of here, go to the game.” I tell her. And, that’s an order. She looks at me, “Oh no, Mr. Smith, go out to dinner, have fun. I’ll just go to next week’s game.”
That game is in Kansas City, the other side of the state, a 3 hour drive from us. This game is just beyond our backyard, a 3 minute walk from us.
“Listen, Kerri, I want to thank you for being loyal to us. You could have bailed, made up any excuse, and you know what, I wouldn’t have blamed you. But, instead, you kept up your end of the deal. You made a commitment and stuck to it. I respect that. Now, I’m telling you to get out of here, and go cheer with your friends. Have fun. Be a 15-year old kid.”
Kerri, politely, asks if I’m sure, and I point to the door with a smile. She, of course, says “thank you” and bounces out the front door. She ran to her house up the street in 2 seconds flat and was in her Dad’s car in less time than it took me to get Cooper ready. We had to get Goldfish, Teddy Grahams and a Capri Sun. Now, that’s a tailgating spread…
Danielle still went to the bistro, sans her limo driver. Delaney went to Movie Night at her school with her little 1st grade pals, and guess where Coop and I went?
West won on a last minute Touchdown drive, 34-28! It was High School Athletics at its best; Kerri and 1400 of her closest friends stormed the field. Just another November Friday Night here in Suburbia.