When my oldest daughter turned 4, I threw her a birthday party complete with a pony, a visit from a clown who did face painting, and loads of those cute little plastic jugs of non-nutritious juice I believe were called "hugs." My daughter is now 17 and the bashes she goes to often have a bit more than Kool Aid for partygoers to chug.
Last weekend, my daughter attended a party where some of the attendees got a bit too enthusiastic with the libations. She left the party early. I know this because my middle child told me there was drinking at the party - something my oldest didn't share with me. However, my middle child tattletale also told me that my oldest left the party early because she didn't want to be associated with what she called the "stupid drinkers." I couldn't help thinking to myself, in a little sing-song voice, "I've got the good kid."
Something, somewhere along the line that I said to my oldest, obviously near perfect, daughter must have struck a chord. Perhaps it's the fact that I rarely drink myself. Now, I'm not a teetotaler, but I don't crack one open after a long day's work, either. I've got a four-pack of wine coolers in the refrigerator that have been there since last New Year's Eve (I was going to have one then opted for the Seven-Up punch with green sherbet instead). The kids know they're there and every now and then I threaten to down all of them when the kids are driving me nuts. I never do, though.
Perhaps it's the fact that, in general, I think "the stuff tastes nasty." That's what I say when the kids ask me about alcohol in general. I hate beer. The stuff tastes nasty. Mixed drinks? Blech! Better than beer, but you can still taste the alcohol. Give me a virgin cocktail any day. I have a friend who loves beer. She drinks it all the time. I've asked her how she can stand the stuff. She says it's an acquired taste. She hated it at first, too.
I guess the problem is that I just don't understand consuming something that you hate long enough for it to become palatable. I mean, if you hate Brussels sprouts, you don't keep eating them, do you? Especially if they make you hurl, like beer. I actually like Brussels sprouts, but my position on beer is probably pretty clear. It's not like work, where you have to do it whether you like it or not. Drinking is a completely unnecessary pursuit.
As early as my kids began to query me about how alcohol tastes and how it makes you feel, I was completely honest with them as is my, sometimes lamented, habit. I told them that the stuff tastes nasty. They asked me, of course, if I tried beer. I said that I had and that ... well ... the stuff tastes nasty. I never made it through an entire cup ('cause beer is served in plastic cups at a keg party).
Once, the day after a party that my boyfriend threw, there was beer left in the keg and his friends came over to suck up a little hair of the dog the morning after. It was a super hot day and they all kept saying how "refreshing" that ice cold beer was. Well, like a nice tall glass of iced tea, I started downing that plastic cup (I believe it was one of those blue "solo" brand cups) of cold, "refreshing" beer. Argh! The stuff tasted nasty!
As far as telling my kids how alcohol makes you feel, I don't talk about ever being drunk. Sure, I've been drunk. Done some pretty stupid things, too. However, I don't think my kids need to know that and I don't feel the need to regale them with stories of Mommy's drunken displays of idiocy. Chances are they'll find out for themselves one day. I do say things like, "sure, 'cause barfing in public is a lot of fun" and "wow, how awesome that hair holding has now become a sign of true friendship," and "what a blast to make an idiot out of yourself in front of perfect strangers."
Look, my kids have heard the usual propaganda about underage drinking. However, they've also heard some honest, real-life talk about alcohol from a no-holds-barred kind of parent. Since my ex-husband, their father, has remarried a woman who is an alcoholic, I know it's not his stellar influence that has swayed them (unless he has taught them what not to do by example). I can only assume that, somewhere, sometime, at some point, I must have done something right. As a parent, that's good news!
Labels: peers, drinking, alcoholism
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