After watching the near-perfect In the Heat of the Night (1967) with Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger, I hung in for its not-so-perfect sequel, They Call Me Mr. Tibbs! (A lot transpired in Amerikkka in those three years.) I remembered the crime story aspect, (the preacher, Martin Landau, did it) but I was more intrigued with the relationship between Tibbs and his wise-ass tween son.
In one scene, the father catches his son smoking a cigarette in their garden shed, and then takes him inside to share cigars and liquor. As Tibbs wastes his breathe explaining the value of hard work and being the best (his son prefers being “second-smartest” in his class so all the kids don’t hate him), on clue, the kid gets sick. Man, could they even portray that scenario in a movie these days? Murdering a kid with a machete is one thing, killing him with tobacco and booze is something else.
When we found out Morgan had been caught smoking cigarettes with Austin this summer, I never considered giving him a pack. Problem is, he’d puff past the nausea and then he’d want a case of Marlboros. I explained that ultimately I couldn’t keep him from any bad habit, but since he’s only 13, it’s my job to try.
Sooner or later, he WILL try cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, sex and who knows what other reckless, fun stuff. And that was the point I wanted to make with Morgan—we all develop behaviors, habits and addictions that could kill us—physically, emotionally or financially. And when I concluded my cautionary tale, he never questioned how I knew those things. Maybe he knows better. Because when he does ask, I’m gonna tell him, straight up.
Sometimes the best example I can be for my kids is a bad one.