Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Give Them Truth And Let Them Choose

Life is a funny thing. We grow up desiring some really superficial things, only to become 'adults' and realize that now that we are old enough to do whatever we want, it's not really worth doing.  Well, most of us anyway.

I've seen friends and family turn to drugs or alcohol. I have seen the dark sides of addiction in too many people that I've cared about. I am a born helper and knowing that there is nothing I can do to help someone kills me. When they make that choice for change, though, I can be there for them. It breaks my heart waiting for that choice, and sometimes, it just doesn't come. 

Why do we want all these things? Why do they seem so exciting before we can try it? Macboy is 13, I know that many kids his age have already experienced drugs, tobacco, alcohol and even sex. I also know that he is not doing any of these things. I am close to my kids, I am here and I am accessible. And also, one of the first to know what he is doing, because he tells me. I'm clinging to this relationship for as long as I can. I know that there will come a time that he won't want to tell me, but I hope we can get around it.

Yesterday was 'Health Day' at his school. All kinds of presentations were given all around the school and they classes made their way through them. I'm proud, because he said he didn't really learn anything that he didn't know already. I'm proud because I was the one to teach him most of that. I never want my kids to have to learn from other kids. I will always answer their questions and try to prepare them for what is coming.

But this Health Day did lead to an interesting discussion about drugs between him and I. We haven't had to have a lot of those drug talks, but we've had a few. He asked me questions about addiction, because he knows that I've had a long battle with nicotine. We've had an alcoholic in our lives. I've got a strung out cousin who is in and out of jail and rehab. I think we both felt better. 

I'm not saying we're angels, us parents. There are our own times of experiments and such. Though I can't speak for what the Trucker was like before I met him, I know that I have made good choices with my life. I won't lie to him either. If he is old enough to ask, he is old enough for honesty.

My downfall was drinking. I grew up with alcohol in the house and the first time I had rum (and got tipsy) was in grade 6. I was drunk often through grades 7-9. Not good. I was smart, though, and my marks didn't slip too low. And when I hit high school and the kids were all just starting to get into what I'd already done for awhile, I was kind of done with it. By the time I was old enough to legally drink, I was an extreme hangover walking. It quickly became painful to drink. I do have drinks every now and then, but it's not something I really enjoy or ever look forward to. More than 3 of anything and I'm down for a minimum of 24 hours. Which just can't be done when you have three kids!

Macboy is very logical. He often reminds me of Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory and it cracks me up. Our conversation yesterday was quite philosophical, really. And it's not really about health or the effects on a body. He asked "Why do people choose to give up control of themselves to a chemical substance?"  "Would you let someone else make all your choices for you? At least, if it's a person, you have a chance because they might not be stupid. A chemical makes no sense. Has no conscience. Doesn't care about YOU."

He then quizzed me about my nicotine addiction and my caffeine addiction.  Smart boy, that one.

What I don't understand is why time and nature work the way they do. Why do laws state that we must be such and such age before we can drink or buy cigarettes. Sure, it makes it harder for younger kids to get, but really, it just makes them desire it more. I think in some ways withholding access to these things makes the user more excessive when they finally can get it themselves. Many of us have that year or two of partying like mad, 'college years' and all that. Many of us try it out, and then realize that it was never worth the hype and the health risks are not worth a few short hours of whatever it is we've had. Many of us stop a lot of these dangerous things. But not all of us.

I find, with my kids, that anytime I try to restrict something, they just want it more. Candy, video games, staying up late, whatever. I am not a very strict parent, I'll admit. I have boundaries that can not be crossed, but I always make sure they understand why I have set those boundaries. My boys have both tasted beer and wine. Neither of them like it. It wasn't something I had that they couldn't. And now, it's not an issue at all. They simply know that they didn't like the taste. They ask why I have any of it, I answer as honestly as I can. I don't really know. In small doses, in moderation, I enjoy a few drinks with friends. I can relax in a different way and loosen up. But I don't do it all the time because drunk Wendy is not Wendy. 
No matter what anyone says. 

I believe that you can't be a different person just because of alcohol. I think some traits are lying under the surface, regardless of drugs or alcohol. The sober person can make the rational choice to NOT act on those impulses. An intoxicated person loses that inhibition. We do things we normally would not do. There is a reason we are inhibited! If we were ever intended to act the way we do when we are drunk, we would act that way everyday. I simply don't understand it. I guess I'd have had to become an alcoholic to understand, and if that is the case, I'm grateful to never understand.

I think it is simple human nature that makes us desire what we can't have. The grass is greener mentality. When we have it, we don't know what it means anyway. And then we grow up and realize it was never worth having anyway. 

Think of how much time we can waste in our lives, experimenting with things we never wanted to begin with. I can't imagine how much farther ahead I could be in my life if bars were nothing special. I grew up in a time where children were allowed in some bars up until a certain time of night. I sat and played games with friends while our parents drank together. I saw how they acted stranger and stranger after each drink, and I saw what I never wanted to be. 

I don't want to subject my children to seeing what I have seen, but I do want them to grow up knowing the truth. And I will continue to tell them things they may not want to hear, I will give them the truth they deserve. I will pray daily that they make the right choices when their time comes.

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