My daughter recently asked me for permission to attend the after party for the high school semi formal. Yikes. How did we go so quickly from a tame American Girl tea party to scary after parties full of upper class men, alcohol and drugs? I was not ready to expose her to this.
I just attended a drug education evening at her school; my daughter spent the week speaking with the same gentlemen, a recovered drug addict, and learned first hand the ills of teen drug and alcohol consumption.This gentleman (who was my age) had smoked pot since he was 12; he shared with the teens that years of smoking had left him incapable of a steady relationship. This impacted my daughter. It certainly gave us both a different perspective on the issue of alcohol and drugs.
My first choice was to lock her in her room and just say NO!
I have two older teens and while I was tempted, I realized that this was unrealistic; and yet, I knew I had plenty to worry about. After thinking this through, I decided to look at this through her eyes: those of a smart girl, more scared than I, and not in any way eager to experiment with drinking or drugs. We have had ‘the do not drink’, ‘the do not smoke’ and ‘the do not leave an open bottle/cup on the counter at a party’ discussions. We eat dinner together, We have had discussions about where drugs and alcohol have left Lindsey Lohan. She knows very well to never get in the car with someone who has been drinking even if they say they are fine.
At the drug education evening, I listened to parents desperate for the panacea that would free their children from drinking and smoking over the next few years. All parents play Tug of War: How to keep teens safe and guide them to make good decisions while needing to allow them to go to parties with their friends. Heck, they are regularly invited to consume alcohol and smoke pot by the movies, videos and music they watch on every screen in their lives. We live in a city where marijuana clinics are more plentiful than nail salons and alcohol and prescription drugs can easily be taken from homes.
That night we were reminded that before our teens’ frontal lobes are developed - We parents need to watch closely, make it clear what we expect from our teens and empower them to make smart decisions for themselves. We need to make conscious efforts to be present even when we are not invited, we should check in with other parents and show up at our school’s drug night – sending messages to our kid that we care; we need to try and stay up til our kids get home on the weekends and keep them home on weekdays; we should give warm hugs and lock up our liquor and medicine cabinets. (If not for our own teens, for others who may visit our home and wander around!)
I learned a new term – ’4:20 ‘ or ’4/20′ both pronounced – ‘four twenty’ to describe smoking marijuana or the consumption of cannabis and the cannabis subculture. It refers both to the time of day that is ideal to smoke pot and the date on the calendar when pot smokers gather to celebrate and consume cannabis. Do you know where your teen is at 4:20pm on a school day? Am I the only pre-historic mother unfamiliar with ‘four twenty’?
I did agree to let my daughter attend the party after I learned that it would be at the house of a senior boy whose family I knew. Even with this thoughtful decision, I was ambivalent.
In the end, I was relieved. A text went out from the senior to freshmen that the party was not open to their grade! My daughter would instead sit a Dupars with her friends and eat hash browns after the semi formal (yeah!) While my goal as a parent is not to ‘look good’, I must admit that in this case, it felt great: I had trusted my daughter and given her permission to partake, but due to circumstances beyond my control, her invitation had been rescinded.