Monday, March 8, 2010

Hey Kids, Drinking Is (Really Not That) Bad!

In our school district, all kids participate in a Drug Abuse Resistance Education (also referred to as "DARE") program. The main purpose of this program is to "provide children with the information and skills they need to live drug-and-violence-free lives" because according to the DARE mission statement, "contemporary America is rampant with challenges that could keep children from a positive life path."

While I'm grateful that they are educating the kids about bullying and how to avoid violent situations, I don't have the same words of praise for how they are educating the kids about drinking. In fact, I kind of think that that part the program is a pain in the ass.

Doug and I have always kept beer in the fridge, liquor in the cabinet and have applied the "everything is fine if enjoyed in moderation (until after the kids go to bed)" frame of mind to drinking. We don't fall down or launch into obscenity- and anger-filled rants (again, until after the kids go to bed) and I've never once said "Hey you, child over there, come with mommy to the bathroom and hold my hair." We don't have DWI's on our record, we don't start barroom brawls and we are rarely hungover to the point of wishing for death.

Trying to set such a fine example of enjoying booze in a responsible manner takes a lot of effort. No, really. A lot of fucking effort! There are times when a shot or two of vodka/tequila/Jameson would be so much more efficient than having to go through the process of mixing, shaking, stirring and sipping, but I always decide against doing the shot because even though my kids can't remember where the extra rolls of toilet paper are kept, I know they would remember the sight of me knocking back shots of tequila and licking the salt off of my hand while I'm stirring the Tuna Helper.

So, my frustration with the DARE program is that instead of supporting my beliefs that everything should be taught in a realistic manner (Yes, full-of-bullshit abstinence until marriage unit, I'm talking about you), they're sending a strong "NO USE" message. Seriously. No use. None. And here's the funny part: they teach this curriculum through 12th grade.

While I find it completely appropriate to tell the younger kids that they shouldn't be constructing their beer bongs quite yet and should be going to gymnastics to learn things other than how to do a great keg stand, I have to wonder how much influence the Don't Ever Drink Drinking Is Bad Only Losers Drink lecture is going to have on an auditorium filled with high school students.

I, like you, knew plenty of people that drank and smoked (among other things) in high school and for the most part, we all turned out fine. We all managed to create children that were born tail-free, a large majority of us graduated from college and if there is money on the line, we'd still be able to complete a calculus equation or at least find the area of a square.

On the other hand I also know people that (even during their senior year) refused to let a drop of Sun Country Wine Cooler or PBR touch their innocent lips, and then they moved out and went away to college. Suddenly these people who thought that drinking was only for morons couldn't get drunk often enough, they fell asleep in puddles of their own barf, flunked out of classes and became resentful about missing out on all those fun parties back in high school when liver and brain cells recovered in less than an hour.

So, while I'm not going to be the idiot mom who completely gives up, says "kids will be kids" and throws a bottle of Jim Beam in her kid's glove box every weekend, I'm certainly not expecting that they'll never, ever drink because "a cop talked at school for the DARE program and told me not to." I'm assuming that at some point before they turn 21 they might sip a drink now and then (a note to my mom and dad: I may have tasted a beer before I was 21), maybe play some beer pong in a friend's basement (again, that may have been me), laugh when someone (like me) falls down the steps (holy crap that was so funny) and know that while I'm not encouraging them to get drunk, they can call me if they need a ride home because after all, that's what I told them.

On Saturday night while walking to the kitchen I passed Charlie on the steps. He asked me where I was going, I shook my empty glass and said I needed a refill. Since now that he's all DARE-educated and aware of the evil effects of alcohol, he said you're going to get drunk mom. I said well yeah kid, that's the point. But I'm home, I'm not driving anywhere, I'm an adult, I'm not going to pass out and because all of my kids still live at home, occasionally getting drunk is kind of a necessity. He never heard the last part of what I said, though, because he had turned around and was headed to the kitchen too. Apparently I'm not the only one that likes to mix cranberry juice and tonic. Mine might have had a little bit of vodka in it, though.


Carmen said...

Preach it, sistah. I've always thought DARE was a huge waste of taxpayer money.

JSH said...

My son even scoffed and made fun of the DARE program. He said, "Okay I get already, don't do drugs, duh!"

Anonymous said...

I love how they think that my kids are better off learning how to drink responsibly from their 21 year old friends (play along with me here). Have they never been on a college campus? I am much better suited for that job as their parent. I sucked at being a good influence when I was in college.