Hi John, I just wanted to forward this video onto you that I retrieved off my daughter’s iPhone. I was going to wait to speak to you in person, but it can’t wait. I’d call, but am not confident I could compile my thoughts neatly enough to keep them straight, or keep my voice strong enough to make my point. It’s big, and needs to be made.
We’ve known each other a long time. Through Little League, summer camp, school. We’ve watched each other’s kids grow up, shared wine, chats and mutual trust. So what I find so disturbing about this video, isn’t so much that it’s of my daughter and your son sharing a two-foot bong. At an age where a lot of kids start experimenting, we both know whether they do or don’t isn’t entirely within our control. It’s the fact that, even with the erratic camera footage, even billowed in smoke, cluttered by laughter and background music and—what’s that?—a vodka bottle being passed across the screen, it’s clearly your car they’re riding in. Then that moment, a flash, and I realize the driver of this party bus is you!
I thought there was an unspoken rule, part of the Parent’s Handbook: Do not aid and abet in getting other people’s kids wasted. But as I watched, a whole other reality shot me smack in the face like a spring-loaded snake from a joke can. I know the rationale: if they don’t do it here they’ll just find somewhere else. Better getting it from a trustworthy source than be tempted to steal, or buying it from someone shady. As parents we all want to know our kids are safe, to help them navigate the potholed roads of adolescence. Our greatest fear is to have that open, pre-adolescent line of communication snap like a zip-line over 900 feet of canyon floor. So I understand. We want so badly to be their allies, who they’ll not only seek out but include, it can impair our judgment. But seeking out for party favors beyond Takis and glow sticks is not the same!
We assume that when our kids are being supervised by other parents there’s no need to worry. Can we call it a momentary lapse in character? Because I imagine if you knew to what extent weed plays with their pliable-as-clay gray matter, you wouldn’t dare promote it. Not for any kid, but particularly those of other people. If I want mine to grow up with little more than the mound of lint they’ve managed to gather from their navels, I’ll ask. Not to mention, you’ve no idea how flammable the material is with which you’re working: kids who may already be wired for addiction; kids impulsive or destructive by nature to begin with; smart kids who make dumb choices when their hormone-brined brains are compromised. While for those straddling the fence, you just made their decision a whole lot easier.
As a result, I’ve forbidden mine from going to your house ever again, for any reason, and no rides in your car, anywhere, so please don’t offer. You’ve always been generous with your time and your big SUV. Now I know why the middle-schoolers like you so much. You’re the “cool” dad, the Tony Montana to the eighth grade. When your son presents you with a mug, #1 Dad, he probably means it. But will he when the bed stops spinning, after a blackout, in rehab, prison, or wiping the dirt from his knees at his best friend’s burial? Am I being melodramatic? Anything is possible, so as parents maybe we can all agree to make these scenarios less likely.
You’re a smart man, John, with some good qualities, but this isn’t one of them. I hope you’ll think twice before supporting this sort of (yes, illegal) activity again. Bad example aside, it’s risking our kids’ lives and their futures. Food, shelter, hugs and encouragement—it’s in the handbook. Drugs, alcohol and a “safe” place to use them, no. Being the “cool” dad is NOT cool. If it means letting our kids hate us now so they can love us later, so be it. Challenge yourself, John, be a grown-up.
This author has chosen to publish her post anonymously.