Sage (my dog), Ryan (my son) and I went for a walk today and did some serious exchanging of ideas. Sage didn’t share much. He was somewhat preoccupied with the various dog pee smells in each and every tree trunk or light post that we encountered. Ryan and I did most of the talking. Ryan may well be seven years old, he is very wise for his age.
The conversation started with how summer was going; is Ryan excited about second grade; is mom excited about her new job and such like. Then we moved on to the question of how the first tree was created and whether the trees that we see around us are the descendants of that first tree. Then next topic we discussed was how Sage’s shadow resembled one particular type of wolf, and my young scientist gravely declared that Sage has descended from that particular wolf who has left his shadow with Sage as an inheritance.
We got into serious grounds next – drinking alcohol. Sean and I don’t drink alcohol. I tried it as a youngster, never liked the taste, never felt the need for it in my life. Sean made a conscious choice to stay away from alcohol because he too didn’t feel the need to introduce that poison in his body. In fact, I heard this story on my wedding day from his friends:
“Your husband is a piece of work. He went to a bar in Costa Rica with friends and ordered a glass of milk!!!”
Ryan and Sahana have decided not to drink alcohol as well when they are adults.
On our walk, Ryan asked me if making the choice (of not drinking) was difficult and more importantly is it going to be hard for him when he grows up. Teaching moments, or rather talking moments like these don’t come up often in our hectic schedule. So I put it to good use.
For me, the choice was relatively easy. In the mid eighties India when I was a teenager, drinking was still considered a taboo among the middle class, especially for girls. Most of my girl friends abstained from drinking and the boy friends didn’t expect us to drink anyway, so there was not much peer pressure, or the need to conform. Sean had more of a difficult time growing up in America where drinking alcohol had more acceptance as a social norm. But after the initial ‘Come on man, just one drink’ people respected his choice and left him alone. They also appreciated his voluntary service as their designated driver after parties.
Ryan and Sahana, I believe will have more of a difficult time standing their ground, if they choose to stay away from alcohol, than we had. I say this because in first grade play ground discussions, little boys and girls have already questioned Ryan about his choice, “You are so funny! Why won’t you ever drink? I have sipped from my parents’ drink, I like it!” I told him he is going to hear more of it as he becomes a teenager. Teenage drinking is a huge problem world wide. And really, what is the harm in one drink? One glass of red wine is even beneficial for health, I often hear. The harm is, one drink often becomes two and then becomes three. His strength of character will be sorely tested when and if he refuses drinks in people will back off and respect his choice if he stands his ground.
I am a firm believer in ‘live and let live’. I have made my choice in my life. I respect other ADULTS’ choice of enjoying their alcoholic beverage as long as they don’t harm others under its influence and don’t get behind the wheels after downing a few. We have spent way too many moments of silence in different sporting activities, in memories of teenagers who lost their lives to drunk driving. I am not going to go into statistics, it is out there right in front of our eyes.
Life is about making choices. My children will make a choice on this when they are at a legal drinking age (I hope). My job, as a parent, is to make sure they are aware of all the ill effects that alcohol has on human body and let them make an informed decision. All I can hope is my children stay away from it. And if they don’t, then I hope they make good judgments of how much and when to stop. Most importantly, I hope they designate a driver!