As I was dropping Tornado E off at school the other day, the morning radio show started discussing teaching drinking to underage drinkers. People called in. Some say it was wrong to give minors alcohol. But most were for it. Because how else do you teach kids to drink responsibly and safely?
I’m really sure I didn’t cuss. But I wanted to.
How else? How else? Are you kidding me?!
I know. How about a conversation? Honestly. If we applied this show and tell theory to other just-as-important conversations, how weird would the sex talk get? Do you buy a prostitute and watch giving pointers or just ask your kid to bring home the girl/boyfriend and help with tips? (Give me a moment. I just had the thoughts of my own Talk and the future of giving the Talk just collide. I need a moment to settle my stomach.)
As I railed at the complete stupidity, Tornado E piped up.
Tornado E: Mommy, what’s “binge drinking?”
Me: It’s when you go out and try to drink as much alcohol as you can. It makes you very sick and could hurt you very badly.
Tornado E: Then why do they do it?
Me: (Great, this is where being straight edge doesn’t help.) I’m not sure. A lot of people enjoy the feeling, but they all complain the next day.
Tornado E: Does Daddy binge drink?
Me: (Ah, crap.) No. (Not any more.) People drink because they like the taste and they like the feeling. But you should drink for the taste. You have to drink in moderation.
Tornado E: What’s moderation?
Me: It’s the middle. Take candy. What’s your favorite type of candy?
Tornado E: Root beer suckers.
Me: Ok. Well, how would you like it if you only got one root beer sucker a year?
Tornado E: I wouldn’t like it.
Me: Yeah, that wouldn’t be fun. Now what if you had a huge bag of them and you ate and ate and ate until you couldn’t eat them anymore?
Tornado E: I would get sick. I wouldn’t feel well.
Me: Right. Now you have to find a good middle, a good balance between too few and too many root beer suckers. That applies to everything. You don’t want to work too much or too little. You don’t want to eat too many desserts or too little. There’s a balance. That’s why we don’t watch TV all day. It’s why we don’t have school or work on the weekends. It’s why we don’t go eat at McDonald’s every day. Moderation.
I pulled up to the school.
Tornado E: I get it. Moderation.
I get out of the car and help him out. We hold hands as we cross the bus bay.
Me: So what do you think moderation means?
Tornado E: It means finding the middle.
Me: Can you give me an example?
Tornado E: Well, you can’t eat ice cream all the time, and you can’t eat it just once a year. I think a good middle is once a week.
Me: Great job!
I kissed him and sent him on his way. I didn’t tell him his Grandma would completely disagree, believing once a day ice cream was perfectly fine.
I wanted to call the radio show, but I couldn’t think of the point. Some parents feel that giving teenagers alcohol is perfectly fine; some do not. But the point is waiting until the kids are teenagers to discuss drinking was way too late. responsibility, knowing limits, and moderation start much younger. Maybe if someone had the moderation talk with me at an early age, I wouldn’t have eaten a whole bag of gumdrops and became thoroughly sick at the age of 7. Or if I followed my advice, I wouldn’t have split a whole bag of Cadbury eggs with a friend while our kids watched a movie and then cycle through eater’s remorse.