Sunday, March 18, 2012
Your Child Is Human, Wake Up and Believe It
Maybe I was the only one who didn't know. The only parent who wasn't aware. The only Mama who thought it wasn't happening with her child. I'm not blind to teenage life and all that entails. I'm not oblivious to peer pressure and teenage stress. I know that teenagers drinking alcohol underage is rampant. Yes, it is, even right here in Gadsden County. I know that smoking weed is also a regular past time for so many teenagers, also living in this county. I have heard names of kids that absolutely shock me in regards to both. But what I didn't know, didn't have a clue, was that my son, my baby boy, was partaking in some of these activities.
I'm very familiar with the bluff and run conversations. Where your kid is talking to you about who does what, how often, how drunk they get, where they get their weed from, etc. And they are talking to you so much, being so open, your mind never strolls to the oh so obvious horror, that they may doing these things as well. You know, just like on television, when they're trying to break a suspect. He gives up information voluntarily on someone else, to deflect the attention from himself. Yeah. That's about how it works. As I said, I'm very familiar with those methods. I was a teenager once. You do all you can to make your folks feel warm and fuzzy about what you're doing, then your rope remains loose, your options and amount of freedom become bigger.
Well, when they come home from a day of fishing, talking to you more than they have talked to you in weeks, voices louder than normal and over compensating with all of the above, you'd better get to looking. You'd better put your book down, turn the television off, forget about work, gather all of your attention and focus.
I lived with two alcoholics for the better part of my life. I know what drunk looks like in the beginning, the middle and the end. I know every sign there is to know. I know that every drinking man is a different one. There are mean and ugly ones, there are happy and good time Charlie ones. I know that different types of alcohol have different effects. I knew at ten years old, depending on what my Daddy "smelled" like when he came home, whether to stick around, or head to my bedroom and stay there. Beer made him happy, and liquor made him unfit to live with.
We're dealing with that day of fishing the best way we know how. I talked to him at length myself. Choosing to take the "I'm so disappointed" road, and of course, stress the obvious medically genetic reasons neither one of my children should ever take a drink. Their birth father is an alcoholic and their maternal grandfather is a recovering alcoholic. My husband, talked to him from his view of being a recovering alcoholic himself, sober 16 years now. The money he wasted on alcohol, the marriages that might have been different, and the time, the memories, he will never get back.
We both discussed in unison, although in separate conversations, that the trips to the beloved Mine Hole would stop if we could not trust him. That the friends he currently surrounds himself with, would have to change if we didn't see some changes. And that we would both be relentless in making sure he carried out our wishes. We discussed the laws, legal limits for drinking, and the repercussions for breaking those laws and getting caught. How expensive his vehicle insurance would be should he break those laws, lose his license and have to obtain insurance on his own once he gained he license back. And most importantly, the lives he would be putting into jeopardy. His own, and whomever he was unlucky enough to pass on the road in any state of mind other than sober.
And we discussed the phone call. Should he not choose to listen to anything we have said, that we expect a phone call for a ride home. With no reprisals. There of course would be later conversations, but for that time, for that ride, just a thankful parent who would be so glad that her child at least had enough thought for himself and others.
The rest of you parents can handle your child any way you choose. I choose to handle mine with my eyes wide open. And I dare say this, if the school he attends should decide to administer "surprise" drug or alcohol tests, I would give my absolute permission. I also dare say, it wouldn't be a bad idea if they did. I'm publicially announcing there would be some wake up calls for many. And for all you regular church going people, I agree, church and God are a wonderful thing. But don't let the lights from the pulpit blind you. Don't let the preacher or minister do your work for you. Don't let that boy or girl of yours in their Sunday best's, disguise their everyday worst.''
And for the parents, who think, letting your children drink with you, or around you, in hopes of minimizing what they do without you, I promise, you are oh so wrong. All you're doing is encouraging the "like" and the "fake warmth" of it. Best to be careful and mindful of what you "help" with...lest the warmth they feel is that bright light leading and ascending into heaven. Are my words too harsh or scary? Dramatic? Maybe so, but they're real. The legal age limit is 21 years old for a reason.
Because you see, I have so many things that I wish for my child. He has so many things to do, and so many opportunities of which to take advantage. But he has to be here to do all of that. He has to be alive to accomplish anything. He has to be alive and sober, in order to live his life in the manner he was intended.
I signed on for that job when I became pregnant. And the minute I gave birth, the clock started ticking. The clock of responsibility and ownership of what I helped to bring into this world. My child may not like me much today. Hell, he sure probably didn't like me much last Friday night. But I love him. I love both of my children with all my heart and soul. I have no shame and I do not hide from reality. No matter how ugly or uncomfortable it may be. And the rest, well it really just doesn't matter.
I will be sad and very disappointed if parents read this and don't at least question in their minds things they may have overlooked or missed. Eyes that looked too bright, voices too loud, eyes flooded with bloodshot, and speech mildly slurred. I know you all want to see your children into adulthood. It's our job to make sure that happens, with every single breath we take. Every single decision we make. One day I expect I will be my child's friend. But right now, I'm his Mama. And if that doesn't include friendship at this time of our lives, that's alright too. I'm just trying to keep him alive.