Monday, June 5, 2017

Not Kool or Cool

I've had things swirling around to write about, so many things I haven't gotten to, but I went down the rabbit hole of trying to use Instagram for business, and I can't even explain how time consuming that's been. I still don't like it, don't really get it, and am annoyed that I'll never reclaim all these hours of my life, but that's another blog entry I'll probably never get to write.

This morning I was on the treadmill and B came downstairs to ask me if I knew anything about an overdose that happened over the weekend in our town. I had no idea what he was talking about. Why? Because I've only been on Instagram. No overdoses showed up there, so I'm clueless. He said it was on our town Facebook page(s) but with no details. He saw it shared by one of our councilmen on his pages.

Our first thought was that it was a kid in town. I still have no idea who it is or any further details. The councilman who wrote about it is a friend, and I read what he wrote. He put something in there about how shaming people doesn't work to stop the epidemic of drug abuse. I wholly agree. I agree with not shaming the ADDICT. 

Like I said, I don't know if this is a kid or what. I don't know if the person actually died or what. Whoever it was, it's devastating. Just for argument's sake, let's say it was a kid. I wouldn't be surprised. There is a culture in this town, and I'm sure in others, of parents trying to hard to be the "cool parents" and just accepting underage drinking and allowing it in their homes and/or just not saying anything when it's done in other homes in town. We thought about whether we could mobilize other parents we know to be part of a group who would be the "anti-cool parents". People might pronounce our last name as "Kool", but we are definitely not cool with underage drinking.

I know there has always been the school of thought of "well, they're going to do it anyway, so I'm just providing a safe space. I feel more comfortable with them experimenting at home". No. What you're doing is illegal, stupid, and just letting your kids know that you're okay with some substance use. You're giving the okay. "Every kid drinks- you're naive to think they won't". No. I didn't drink in high school. I was boy crazy. I felt drinking would impede my ability to dazzle a boy with my scintillating conversation. There are plenty of kids who don't drink. I wasn't the only one not drinking in my class. I also hear- "You wait until your kid is a teenager". Again, no. Guess what? I heard that when he was a baby about being a toddler, then about being elementary school age, and I'll keep hearing it. We still haven't changed our parenting.

Anyone that really KNOWS me would know that I don't mess around, don't care about being cool or even having friends. I certainly don't care about small town social climbing. I don't care about E's social status. I don't care if he or his friends don't think I'm the "fun, cool, no rules, mom". If me being a vigilant watchdog and strict about drinking and drugs compromises his popularity, it's my responsibility to help him navigate that. He can complain about us to the therapist I'll find for him. My job isn't to help him be cool in the eyes of his peers. It's to be his parent. To enforce rules and boundaries, and to keep him alive.

I can't and won't say that our kid won't experiment, that he won't try alcohol. But when it happens, you can bet he will be pinned up against the wall, getting reamed, then grounded, and whatever else we can think of to make sure he understands what is and isn't acceptable as part of our family. You want to judge the pinning up against the wall? Go ahead. I'd much rather be judged for being "that parent" vs the one who lets their freshman boy have drinking party because he didn't make travel soccer.

That also goes to modeling behavior. You may even think you're one of "us"- the not cool parents who won't accept, promote, or condone underage drinking, but not realize you're bringing your kids up around a culture of drinking that shows them it's just normal behavior to drink daily. I can't count how many times moms have posted anecdotes about their young children mentioning "mommy's wine", thinking it's so cute and funny. Or drinking daily around the kids, taking pics of the baby/toddler/older kid holding a beer or alcohol bottle and posting it on social media with a funny caption. It's really not that funny. You're setting your kids up to think that daily drinking, or that it's wine o'clock somewhere is totally normal. It's not.

I'm not telling you not to drink. Or even not to do drugs. Just don't make your house one that makes drinking seem like something you do all the time with no thought. That the only way to have fun is having people over drinking all the time. Where the kids are seeing all the mommies drinking their special drink that looks so enticing every time people are over. Think a little about what your kids are seeing and the attitudes toward drinking like it's something to look forward to or that you can't hang out without it and still have a good time. That you can't get through a school function without adding alcohol. Don't think that's a leap? I've BEEN at numerous school functions where I know parents are drinking alcohol. They can't get through a two hour event without it. Or just don't want to get through that event without it.

I'm not against drinking. I'm not even against marijuana. I've smoked it and if I didn't have to drive or see my kid for hours, I'd partake in it if it was offered by someone I trusted. I drink at my friend Noreen's party every year. I had sangria at dinner the other night. I certainly can live without it and I don't pull out a glass of wine nightly to pair with my Jenny Craig meal. I don't bring a flask to school functions and I really don't need it to go to a mom's night out at the movies. The whole idea of bringing alcohol to a movie theater doesn't even compute. I'm for there being a time and a place for things, for those who are OF AGE. I also know myself and know *I* can take or leave all of it. The only think I'm addicted to is sugar.

My parents weren't what other people would consider strict. The did have things that I knew, especially as the firstborn, that weren't going to be tolerated. I had my own phone in my room that was my lifeline. My parents giveth and made it clear that it could be taketh away. If I got a progress report (in my day, that was a bad thing), or anything less than a C, that phone would be ripped out of the wall. And it was, literally, ripped out of the wall once. I remember it was also taken for a month. Grades were a thing in my house and a C wasn't even a high expectation. I didn't have a lot of rules but I knew to get passing grades and not to get pregnant. I just knew what was acceptable and what wasn't.

An old friend of mine has an article posted on her page by someone else. I read it yesterday and couldn't agree more. It was all about how there has become a disturbing transfer of authority from parents to kids. It's like parents are afraid to upset their kids. I don't know if they're afraid their kids won't like them, won't want to hang out with them, or what. Maybe it has to do with higher rates of divorce and parents being afraid of not being the favored parent. Whatever the reason, it feels like many parents are afraid to parent because of repercussions from their kids.

KIDS WANT BOUNDARIES. Whether they know it at the time or not, they do. How many times have you thought, said or heard the words, "If I'd done or said that to my parents...Forget it. I would've been backhanded into next week..." or something to that effect. They didn't do it. Or they did and there were real, actual consequences. And they didn't do it again.

Here's the article:

You might be thinking that I'm all over the place talking about parenting style, alcohol, drugs, etc and you're not sure what they have to do with each other. That's the first problem. Getting people to realize that they are all connected. You may not think the drinking is that big of a deal and that it doesn't open the door to other things. Permissive parenting does though. You permit the drinking, the door is open. You think your kid is the good kid and wouldn't do alcohol or drugs. What about the good kid who has been "good" all this time and decides that she got into her first choice college, she always does the right thing, so she's going to blow off some steam at a party and drink a little. The drinking lowers her inhibitions so she decides to try something else. She's already buzzed so what the hell, why not? You have no idea, after all the helicoptering and coddling you've done to this point has all but eliminated her ability for critical thinking and making good choices. She'd never failed, never been allowed to make a mistake and have natural consequences, so she naively makes a very wrong one, just that one time....

B and I were talking over the weekend about how we can be proactive with this rising drug epidemic. I don't want to shame the addicts. I don't want to shame the parents of addicts. I don't know how they got to where they are- the kids or the parents. People have extenuating circumstances. Bad luck. Wrong place, wrong time. Genetic or hereditary predilection to addiction.

I made a mistake a few months ago when it was written on a local news site that two teens from my town were arrested for burglarizing downtown businesses. I had and have no idea if it was drug related. My issue was with the ongoing crappy reporting that leaves readers with more questions than answers from every article, because they're more concerned with being first versus being comprehensive. I did a quick search online of the one kid's name because I wasn't even sure the reporter had that correct and came up with another offense committed by the same kids. I posted it under the article to illustrate that all it took was some Googling and there was more to the story.

I got lambasted for putting the info out there. All I did was post a link to another article from months prior to this incident. I didn't/don't know these people. I wasn't even thinking about the people. My intent wasn't to shame anyone but the reporters for lack of pertinent information. The overwhelming response was that I wasn't being "neighborly", and that it was kicking people while they were down. Nevermind that I have a business downtown and I wanted to know whether businesses in my town were being targeted, if it was a prank gone awry, or gang activity. People scoffed at gang activity in our Mayberry town. However, I'd been told by police in another local town that there IS gang activity infiltrating everywhere. That gang members somehow befriend kids in affluent towns to gain access to the homes they can hit at other times.

Then one or two fifteen year old girls in town passed out on elementary school property and I think one was arrested for having drugs on her person. It was immediately written on the town Facebook pages to be mindful of what you say because "these are your neighbors children". That mentality is very telling. It's more important to be neighborly, which really means to sweep it under the rug, than it is to shine a light on the problem. It doesn't have to be by shaming, or speculating, but the fact that it's happening, DOES need to be discussed. We NEED to be talking about how and where the drugs are coming from, where they're using, why they're using, and how we can stop it. It's not enough to look at graphs and statistics, or have drug disposal programs. Those programs are great, and help, but it's not stopping the turning a blind eye by certain parents. It's not the parents turning in their pills that are the problem. Stuff like that is preaching to the choir. It's the "not MY kid" parents and the ones thinking it's fine that their kid was drinking because it was the semi-formal or a winning football game or graduation.

People say that my kid and his friends are too young to hear about drugs, drinking and overdoses. No. They're not. This is when you want to get their attention while you still have it. They are sponges now. They're always going to be our "babies". You're never going to think they're old enough to hear or deal with the atrocities of reality. We want to start teaching and instilling our expectations, BEFORE they get to that point of no return. B and I said we'd love to make a group of the uncool parents who want to take a stand that we're not going to accept or condone this and we want the kids and other parents to know. We want to be such a present force that the ones who care more about being cool than actual parenting feel the pressure not to think that being cool means allowing illegal and dangerous behavior.

I'll tell any other parent right now, come a few grades higher, even if we're friends, if I find out you're allowing drinking and whatever in your house, by the kids, I'm calling the cops on you. If that makes us not friends, I'm good with that. If I sound like a judgemental biotch, I'm totally not caring whatsoever. If writing this gets me uninvited to any town parties, I won't be losing any sleep over it.

Who is with me?

All being the cool parent gets you is dead kids.

BTW, it's really sad that I Googled "mom memes wine" and there were just pages and pages- I just grabbed some of the first I saw...

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