Wherein My Parenting Skills Grind to a Halt
Saturday already? I was hoping someone out there would be hard at work inventing a time machine, turn the wrong screw at the wrong time and we'd either pass right over this day or maybe get stuck in a frozen time zone that would put this day off for a while.
Ok, so I exaggerate a bit. It's really not that much of a horror to have 21 (wait, I think we're at 23 now) teenagers over for a party, right? 14 and 15 year old girls and boys just hanging out, playing DDR, eating pizza, drinking soda - what could possibly go wrong except that I end up eating a bottle of Excedrin Migraine and mediating whatever arguments ensue, because in a group that size and that age, arguments will always ensue?
Honestly, I'm looking forward to seeing what a group of kids this age does when they get together in large numbers. Because I'm remembering the parties I attended when I was fifteen and that's a frightening scenario.
I wonder now if I was a product of my times or a product of the people in my neighborhood, the kids I hung out with? At fifteen, I was already smoking pot. I was already hanging out by the 7-11, bribing the older kids into buying us beer. 40 oz bottles of Michelob, stolen bottles of Boones Farm wine, 75 cent packs of Parliaments and a nickel bag of Columbian were weekend staples. We hung out in the sump by school or in the abandoned house by The Village Green (yes, that village green) and wondered what else it was we were supposed to be doing after we got drunk or high, besides staring at the stars or watching Chris try to get his hands up Marybeth's shirt.
I tend to think it had more to do with the times (mid to late 70's) than anything else. It was a permissive era, a Free To Be You And Me time, when parents were told to just let their kids run free and they would magically turn into responsible adults. The funny thing is, my parents were pretty strict. I had an earlier curfew than everyone else and there were certain people I was absolutely not allowed to hang out with. If anything, my parents were just too naive. They thought making me go to Catholic high school would make the pool of friends I could choose from better than what I had in the public school system. They thought making me hang out with my cheerleader/football playing cousins would set me on the straight and narrow. It was my cousins who taught me how to play quarters.
There was no drug education in the schools then. At least not the way it is now, so pervasive to the point of overeducation. We were just told, in an offhand way, that drugs are bad, mmmmkay, yet we knew that most of our teachers were lighting up as soon as they left the parking lot at 2:20.
Today's student is taught from kindergarten on that drugs, including cigarettes and caffeine, will kill you DEAD. It's the same drugs are bad, mmmkay, thing, but with a bit more oomph to it, including glossy take home pamphlets and lectures on how taking your best friend's Ritalin is not a good idea.
I'm sure that most of my daughter's friends have never seen pot up close, let alone smoked it. Oh, I'm not as naive as my own parents. I know there are kids in the school who smoke pot and drink. I know there are kids who are having sex. And while I know my own daughter isn't part of that, I don't know some of the kids who are going to be showing up at my house tonight.
So I give her the lecture. There will be no cigarettes, no hidden cans of beer. She looks at me like I've lost my mind. Beer? Cigarettes? Who do you think I'm inviting? She reminds me that these are theater guild people. Key Club people. Model Congress people. I say something stupid like, "Yea, well I was in the theater club, too and I know what...." And I stop.
"You know what, mom?" Pause. "Oh! Did you drink beer in high school? Did you get drunk? Did you smoke? Ohmygod, what did you smoke?"
This happened at 11 last night. I told her we would continue the discussion in the morning.
The can of worms has officially been opened, as I knew it would be some day. The question is, how much do I tell without being dishonest? How much does she really need to know? I could use this to my advantage, by telling her first hand experiences of how much it sucks to be so drunk that you don't know what you're doing, but do I really want her to know that her mother once drank so much she passed out in a bathtub full of ice cubes on the senior trip to Disney World? Or do I just gloss the whole thing over and say something like "Oh, I smoked once or twice, had a couple of beers at a party once. Didn't do anything for me." Because I'm certainly not going to say "Holy shit, mescaline was a blast! We had so much fun driving home from the movies that night we forgot our 3-D glasses were still on and that time I thought I saw the Statue of Liberty on Bear Mountain, what a rip!" I need to give an answer that will let her maintain her respect for her mother while getting the understanding that, well, drugs are bad, mmmmkay?
Just when you think you have this parenting thing down pat, they throw you a curve. Hopefully, she won't remember that we were supposed to continue the conversation this morning. Preparing for the army of teenagers coming through here later is going to be a Herculean task as it is, without the added dilemma of explaining away my youth and/or turning it into a morality tale. Or just telling bald faced lies.
I still think kids should come with manuals.