My husband and I like to drink, sometimes a lot. Beer is always on hand at our house and after a trip to Trader Joe’s, you can find a case (sometimes two) of wine. Our home contains hard liquor bottles that are full, half full, and almost empty. These bottles are on a shelf in our basement, while the wine and beer fill our refrigerators.
We have two teenage boys who are often found gaming or hanging out with friends. One of my friends recently asked where we “locked our alcohol.” When I told her most was on the basement shelf, she was appalled. She couldn’t believe we were comfortable with alcohol being in the basement with the teens, without our supervision. WTF?! Are you kidding me? I’ve never given it a thought that we need to lock this shit up! I’m supposed to be a responsible parent! Why didn’t I think of this?! Shit! I’ve even had the boys carry the alcohol to the basement and unpack it!
After nearly having a panic attack thinking of my boys getting into the alcohol, I sat and thought. Would they really try a beer? Would they taste the Southern Comfort? What about the whiskey? (I know they wouldn’t try the wine. They can barely remember to clean the bathroom or haul their laundry down the stairs. No chance in hell they are going to figure out a wine opener.) What if I went to check on them and they were passed out? What if one was secretly taking such small drinks of the whiskey that I wouldn’t even notice?
What if one of their friends dared my boys to try a drink? What if one of their friends tried a drink? I can envision the call now. “Yeah, your son is drunk on his ass and going to have to be driven home or stay the night.” I’m sure there would be some conversation as to where he got the alcohol, and I’d have to fess up that it was mine. (I’d probably for sure say it was the hubs fault, but you get the idea). The PTO meeting would for sure have at least one juicy item on next month’s agenda. The what-ifs were never ending.
Then I started thinking of our boys. They get good grades. They follow their curfews. They have manners. They are respectful. They are athletes. Overall, they are good kids. All of these items apply to their friends as well. Does this mean they wouldn’t try to sneak a drink of something and think they were going to get by with it? Hell no. What it does mean, however, is that they have earned my trust. I trust that I can leave them alone in the house and not come home to a passed out teen. I trust they know right from wrong. I trust that they will make good decisions. I trust that if they do decide to take a sip of the whiskey, it will burn their throats so badly they will cry.
When my boys were little, I didn’t have the knives hidden or locks on the cabinets. I wanted them to learn right from wrong. I wanted them to ask questions and be told no. I wanted curiosity to win and mistakes to be learned along the way. Through the years, they have heard stories of my teenage years, including skipping school, underage parties, and breaking curfew. While I am not proud of these things, I learned lessons. They know their grandparents trusted me the same as I trust them. Making poor choices is sometimes part of being a teen.
My boys are not perfect. They are far from it. I am not the mom who thinks her kids will always make the right choices. I know better. However, I am the mom who refuses to lock up her alcohol. I am the mom who as a teen knew right from wrong and sometimes still made the wrong choice. I am the mom who learned from those choices and talks to her kids about those choices. I am the mom who talks about underage drinking, safe sex, being honest, and following your instincts. I am the mom who expects her kids to be respectful, honest, and hard-working. I am the mom who is open with her kids, but also has boundaries that they damn well better not cross. In doing so, I can only hope they are listening and our alcohol supply never runs low.