Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Talk (well, one of them...)

Delivering Christmas cards to our neighbor's mailboxes tonight, Max and I commenced our usual end-of-day big idea/silly questions/ponderings/worries/chit chat...
One house had two green bulbs illuminating their porch lights.
"Do you think they switched them out because they're pro-legal-marijuana?"
He asked (in the eleven year-old I'm kind of joking but actually want to know about something manner).
"And Grampy's porch lights are red because he's Anti?"
Um. Whuttttttt?? Bwhahahaha...
Doing my best to stifle all kinds of snide remarks & honor his curiosity without making him feel like an ass (it's paramount to hone this particular skill as a parent from the get go, just a heads up),
I replied, "Well, I'm guessing the red & green light bulbs have more to do with Christmas than you know, their stance on the legalization or decriminalization of marijuana."
"Right. Mom, do you know there are a lot of names for it?" (Max, for real? We're going there?)
"Mom, there's, like, tons. Weed. Reefer. Mary Jane. Ganja...pot..."
I thought better of adding to his list. 
Side note: weed has come up quite a bit in polite conversation in our family; it's no secret that Uncle Rob is in the clink for a loooooong ass time because of his irresponsible dalliances with weed, coupled with our antiquated & twisted legal system. We've talked about it at length. I have been talking to my kid about drugs and alcohol for a long time. I don't want him to be scared to ask questions or approach me or somebody he trusts in our family when he is confronted with a situation. I want him to understand consequences, responsibility...plainly, I want him to know. 
Growing up, my parents (my dad in particular) were completely open & transparent when it came to all things drug (and alcohol).
While there were times in my childhood that left me scared or conflicted (worried that my parents were "bad" because they smoked a little weed sometimes), my big takeaway was quite simple..
It's not enough to drill into kids Just Say No (which was the big tenet when we started talking about & learning about drugs in school).
My dad told me about bad trips & scrapes with the law near Mexico...he told me about a cousin that was never the same after a bad experience with acid. He lamented about friends who never got away from "occasional" cocaine use. He taught me to be responsible & take control. He taught me how to say no and how not to get caught up in that crap in the first place.
Mostly, he instilled a sense of trust...he trusted me with some pretty personal & compelling information from a young age. In turn, I took those lessons and dialogs to heart and chose not do anything harmful that would disappoint my parents.
I was taught to look at the big picture (and perhaps because of my anxious nature, I was simply scared to mess with my biochemistry or do harm to my distant future unborn children...seriously, I worried about that shit. Ecstasy?? No way...what if it messes with my DNA? What if I snap? Pills? HELL no. And so on and so on...snorting anything? Are you serious? And ruin my already wacky sinuses? You want me to put WHAT up my nose?! I'm so clumsy & awkward, I'd probably do it wrong. Not to mention buggin out...).
Back to The Talk...
"You can ask me anything, any time, and I'll answer you honestly, hopefully in a way that is easy to understand."
"Did you ever try it, mom?"
"Weed? Yes. In moderation. And I liked it if I was with the right people in a safe environment. I never got out of control with it."
"There are supposed to be, like, medical benefits. Like for cancer patients and stuff..." Max told me. "It can help with seizures and stuff. It's legal in some states, right?"
Which led to a frank conversation about laws and legislation and government and addiction and other drugs...
As a parent, one of my biggest fears is that my kid(s) will get wrapped up in some bad sh*t like pills (or, god forbid, heroin). 
Hopefully, continuing to have these easy, honest talks will at least provoke some introspection. Maybe something will stick, maybe something will help them feel comfortable about making smart choices least they'll know we can talk about it. About anything.
Raising children is terrifying & awesome.

As we made our way back to our house, conversation flipped to the new Star Wars movie, Christmas break, candy...
(kid stuff).

Oh...and yes, I have reflected on the fact that my parents raised my brother & I the same way and yes, one of us is incarcerated. 
We were given the same tools/conversations/answers/experiences; it was up to us, as adults, to decide how we were going to handle it.
To imply my parents are somehow responsible for the choices he made is ludicrous. 
And that is something I hope I don't have to remind myself if my kids find themselves in the same kind of trouble someday.

How do you talk to your kids about drugs & alcohol? How old were they when the dialog began? Would you have handled it differently? Have any insight? I'd love to hear your thoughts...

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