It’s that time again.  The moment you decide if you’re going to read my thoughts as they spill onto the paper (screen) willy nilly in an unscrew your neurotic edit function and write exercise.

If you’re staying, welcome aboard.  If you’re passing, I totally understand.  Check back tomorrow for a (hopefully) more structured post.

This week’s prompt is “drink,” either noun or verb.  Huh.  This is where stream of consciousness writing can get me in trouble.  You can find complete details about these posts on Linda’s blog here.

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Brutal truth time: as the kids approach adolescence, conversations about drinking (well, and sex, but that’s not today’s topic) make me more and more nervous.

When they were little the point was moot.  As they grew we moved on to age appropriate descriptions if we had a drink while they were around – for a while they were “grown up drinks” (our cue for Hands Off), then we moved on to the very basics of alcohol and its age restrictions.  Eventually they were old enough to grasp the effects alcohol has on a person, why it’s so harmful to a child-sized body, and the way it changes an adult’s abilities.  (No Drinking and Driving started early in our house.)

But we’re entering a tricky area here.  The party line of “you don’t drink until you’re 21” is one some parents take, I know, but I’ve also got some personal history that shows a more open approach might be wiser.  Which means I live in deathly fear that T-man and Bear will ask me about teenage drinking.  And not just teenage drinking, but my teenage drinking.  Because truth and honesty and for-the-love openness.  Yikes.

I’m wracking my brain, trying to remember when I had my first drink.  Aside from a sip of horrifyingly bitter champagne with my parents on New Year’s Eve, that is.  Fifteen?  Sixteen? Sometime around then, which seemed perfectly reasonable at the time but as an adult is slightly petrifying.

I chose wine coolers, those sickeningly sweet drinks that probably gave me cavities on contact. Does anyone escape adolescence without tasting these things?  Bottles of strawberry and peach and raspberry flavored alcohol designed to appeal to anyone who’d like a fruity soda.  I doubt I could finish one now, but in those days they were perfectly delightful.

They weren’t a day to day thing but I was definitely more comfortable in social situations when I had one in my hand, which really speaks to where I was in those years.  And I would have benefited from honest conversation about why young people drink, what it does to their decision making abilities, and a promise that a call to come get me would be better than me sticking around when things got out of hand or (worse yet) driving myself home.

So I’m slightly terrified of the day when one of my kids looks me in the eye and flat out asks when I had my first drink.  Because I know I won’t lie about it; the stakes are too high.

This parenting is such a high wire act.  I need to tell them my truth, but I don’t want to give them the idea that drinking on weekends at sixteen works out fine.  I need to tell them to call me for a ride, but I don’t want them to think getting wasted at some party doesn’t have repercussions (and not necessarily from us).  The balance between advice, reality, and giving our kids tools to stay safe is so hard to strike.

But if I don’t even try?  Well, then I’m just throwing them out of the nest with a Good luck out there!  And I know that’s not even an option.