Christmas time is here my darlings; time for good tidings and fellowship! Time to praise God, celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and reflect upon another year gone by! A reflection that includes ones own growth or demise along with those cherished most. Family and friends.
One problem. After a long year filled with many activities, surrounded by a multitude of generations, families, friends, strangers, covering from here in California to as far East as Iowa. I have been fortunate enough to make new friends, meet, watch and cheer new kids playing new sports and revile as children I’ve known from childhood into adulthood move on with their lives. Being the ever astute observationist it has come to my attention a certain (middle) age group believes entitlement should be afforded regardless of the fact they are not law-abiding adults. It is also becoming rather apparent after witnessing such behaviors, looking on FB, Instagram and such this entitlement issue is expanding at a rapid rate, further propagated by the lackadaisical attitudes of the very same law-abiding of age adults that are supposed to be prohibiting such behavior!
What behavior would I be referring? Drinking alcohol, chewing tobacco, smoking cigarettes.
To say I am shocked would be a lie.
Oh yes I hear the groans now for this has been the very same argument passed from one generation to the next. The same question tossed forth year after year. Is this generation really worse than the last? Isn’t this the very issue we dealt with ourselves as young adolescents? Come on, whats a drink here or a drink there anyways? A dip never hurt anyone and jeez our parents smoked all the time! Not everyone gets cancer right? Seriously, as long as it’s happening in my home under my watch its ok!
Now before I ramble on in some parent/wet blanket/buzz kill tirade lets clear the air.
I had my first drink at 13 and was a pretty proficient drinker by 16. Let that sit for a minute.
There was never a time, I turned down beer, California coolers or wine. If it showed up on friday night, I drank it, partied hard, then drove, where ever and when ever I pleased. I was hell on wheels and there was no stopping me! My parents tired of the fight and I think at one point short of just yelling at me every time they saw me, they gave up. I never came home at curfew, I stayed out way too late, put myself in situations I should never have been in, and I survived. During the school week it was not uncommon to place a few drops of Everclear in a can of Copenhagen and get royally stoned during class. I snuck (gulp hard here) Black Velvet during the day replacing it with water in hopes no one would know, then hid in my room for hours on end staring at the ceiling wondering why I hated my life.
I was lucky.
My parents DID NOT condone this behavior. My parents tried everything they knew to stop me, but it didn’t work and do you know why? Because there was always somebody elses parents who did condone drinking. Someone else’s Uncle or Aunt who believed the law was stupid and as long as the drinking was held inside their home it was ok. If that didn’t work there were students who looked like adults and could purchase alcohol at 7-11, and there were students who worked at stores where alcohol was available, thus bringing it home for Friday and Saturday night parties on the hill, in a field or out at the sloughs. No Student drinking task forces with underage buyers to bust the stores, no one to stop the wheels of intoxication from turning and a law enforcement group that still believed a ride home or following you to your house with a stern talking too or speech to your parents was sufficient. We were just a bunch of really young kids with no common sense doing things that could (and in some cases did) change our lives forever.
So where am I going with this?
Today life is so much more complicated. Laws are tougher and enforced with vigor. Lawsuits are the norm as opposed to a last option. We as parents have much more to lose and so do our children.
It (temptation) is around us everyday, enveloping our moral compasses; Drink Budweiser and beautiful girls will flock to you. Stay thirsty my friends is touted as gorgeous twenty something’s caress the most interesting geezer in the world. Coors light can only be consumed by sheik sexy men who climb mountains to provide that ice-cold freshness for only you. Copenhagen is for the only the toughest of Cowboys, baseball players and such, and if you want to be the sexiest, coolest, darkest most brooding social misfit then light up! There is a multitude of products for you to burn down those lungs of yours.
Don’t worry though, thanks to the errors of your parents (such as myself) we are also drowning in advice, direction, and choices provided from the likes of MADD-Mothers Against Drunk Driving, TATU Teens Against Tobacco Use, AA-Alcoholics Anonymous etc.. yet despite this barrage of media saturation both in schools and on the street through social media outlets etc. Our kids continue to laugh it off as if nothing will ever happen to them! Do you know why they laugh it off, shrug their shoulders and continue to do as they please? Because we allow it, as parents WE are not unified. We are not setting the standard. WE never learned from our mistakes and are now in some instances relieving those glory years through our children without any thought about the ramifications within our modern-day justice system! ITS NOT 1983 ANYMORE PEOPLE!!!!!
Here is where my problem grows larger.
In the logical sense I am a hypocrite for telling my 14-year-old son not to drink solely based upon my torrid past.(Regardless of the obvious under 21 reality) Recently he was busted partaking in a bottle of beer with a friend. No doubt both of them were covered in AXE body spray, sipping their micro brews just waiting for Victoria’s secret models to fall from the sky on angels wings. I mean seriously they had 2 out of 3 of what advertising agents are gleefully promising the male species on television! So who am I to say he shouldnt do this? Drinking beer with friends; being one who went out of his way to do so at his age it is a conundrum for sure? What is the big deal anyways, its one beer right?
I can see it in his eyes, when his mother and I talk with him about consequences for his actions. The same genetic eye roll, the same blank stare, the very same I dont know what the hell I am talking about tone in his voice! Then just as my blood begins to boil and my teeth cant clench any tighter as I suffer through watching a smaller version of myself reincarnated! I think fine let him head down this path, let him learn the hard way, the same way I learned to become a complete failure! Her you go! Have at it! Your future will now consist of never being able to chase your dreams as a young man because once the party bug bites it’s a hard infection to shake! It’s all you will think about and everything else WILL SUFFER!
But I can’t do it…. I cant let him follow a path leading eventually to the possibility of losing everything he and his parents have worked so hard to achieve. Having been there, walked in those same old alcohol/barf soaked shoes, living through it was an exhausting personal, internal struggle to overcome and the time lost, I can never retrieve.
Like I said I was lucky. Not everyone is so…
Today our children not only risk losing their identities through alcohol/tobacco use, but with social media girls are at the highest risk ever of sexual impropriety. illicit photos taken, shared with god knows who, advances that would be thwarted otherwise, even rape. The same goes for our young men, temptation is too great for their VERY underdeveloped minds! Hormones raging, social media at their finger tips, throw in peer pressure, some alcohol and a full-fledged conflagration is brewing. We expect them to act like men, their bodies begin to look like little men, they carry themselves in some case like men and yet we forget their minds are still that of a child!
So my worries continue; not just for my child (which is why I am rambling so), but for all our promising young adults. I don’t know how to fix this problem, I don’t know how to get other parents on board, I don’t know the answer when it comes to keeping my child on the straight and narrow. But I do know from what I have seen, a storm is brewing, our children are at risk, and it seems as though we are all living a life as if it (something horrible) will never happen to us, our children, or our families.
I will leave you all with this.
Last night I sat my boy down and told him as calmly and directly as I could.
Son, I know you are going to do stupid things, its genetic! (Insert laugh here) But I want you to know if that idiocy ever leads to you becoming inebriated or climbing into a vehicle with a drunk friend you need to call me. I will come and get you and your friends anywhere, anytime. I never want you to be so afraid of being punished that you make the wrong choice hoping you wont get caught. But let it be known, the very next day you will face your mother and I to answer for what you have done the night before.
He agreed then wondered why it was so important, that I drill this knowledge into his head. In his mind all he could correlate our conversation to was the fact he had drunk ONE lone beer the week before and I was seriously overreacting.
I looked him in the eyes, leaned over the counter and in a dead calm voice asked him. Have you ever been there when a mother is being informed her son was killed in a vehicle accident with a few of his friends and alcohol was suspected?
He looked at me and said; (sullenly) no
I placed my hand on his and told him I had, it hurts really bad. (my throat tightens and hurts as I type this)
Then just as calmly said; please dont ever put that responsibility upon someone else because you made a bad choice. It’s not fair, it never goes away and it can never be taken back.
I am hoping he understands….
Talk to your children about drinking, talk to your children about tobacco use, follow-up on their extra curricular activities, its your job to NOT be their friends, its your job to MAKE them hate you at some point, It’s your job to drive them crazy and when it’s all done hopefully with a little luck they turn into outstanding adults who will always remain your child, but have now earned your friendship.
Then sit back, reflect on another year gone by while enjoying watching the very same traits you instilled in them trickle down to their children, your grandchildren.