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11.14.2006

Red Whine

I know it appears that I'm neglecting you. But, remember things are not always as they appear. (Like all those times growing up when I convinced my mom the hickeys on my neck were "from the curling iron". Clumsy me! Eventually, my mom suggested that perhaps I be more careful lest the curling iron think I was easy. ....Oh.)

But, I digress.

We actually hosted a little costume party for the girls over the weekend and I've been going through all the pictures. And realized 1) we drank alot and 2) we drank alot IN FRONT OF THE CHILDREN.

While I DO NOT agree that there is a fine line between socially drinking and "problem drinking", questions on the subject have been buzzing around my head like a fly I keep trying to swat away.

Am I setting the right example for my daughter by allowing her to see me drink? What does she think when she hears us say that we "NEED a drink"?

Having had a father who was an alcoholic (rarely drunk, but regularly drinking) I remember being disgusted when he would be affectionate and kind when he had a few beers.

I would cringe when my parents and their friends would laugh a little too loud late at night. Or seem a little too free with their demeanors. When their stories would become too enthusiastic and their personalities less recognizable. I remember the feeling of unease well.

Yet, I wonder. Did it make it wrong? Should they have done nothing on a Friday night but sit with me and discuss Ramona's latest adventure? They spent plenty of time taking care of the their families and houses and jobs and responsibilities during the week. Why shouldn't they be free to relax and have a good time?

I still question whether the unease I felt was necessarily a bad thing or just a life lesson. Parents are people too.

What message would it have conveyed if they sent me away to a friend's house while they "did their drinking"? Would I have assumed alcohol was something to hide? Part of a great adult secret that I would then be anxiously awaiting being let in on?

True, I didn't like it when my parents would drink, but my daughter doesn't like it when Chris and I even SPEAK TO EACH OTHER. Kids rarely like anything that they're not a part of.

I think everyone is reacting to this subject through the filter of their own childhood experiences. I drink maybe three or four times a month and only in social settings. I never drink alone. And? (Insert Emotional Childhood Baggage Alert.) I never touch my daughter when I'm drinking.

She's often playing with her friends when we are drinking with ours, so its rarely an issue. But, for me personally, I don't EVER want her to be disgusted by a hug or a kiss on the head because she thinks it is the alcohol's affection and not mine. I doubt you understand this, but it is a protective response.

So I understand the bloggers/commenters/journalists who have their strong opinions in one direction or another. Everyone seems very specific. "I never drink in front of my kids" "I always drink in front of my kids" "I only drink after six" "I only drink six" "I teach my kids to mix my drinks" "I won't like you if you don't drink" "I won't like you if you do".

For me the bottom line is HOW MUCH and HOW OFTEN. Not whether it is in front of the kids or not. Kids naturally gravitate toward what they don't understand. I'd rather set a good example than no example.

Do you drink in front of your kids? Do you feel bad about it the next day?

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In other news, I took (some of) your advice and I asked my neighbor like this:

"I was wondering if Lindsey would like to make some extra money by coming over once a week after school to play with and keep an eye on Savannah so that I can work? Maybe Wednesdays from 4-6? And let's keep the fact that she's being paid between us so delicate feelings aren't hurt".

And then I told Savannah like this:

"Good news! Even though Lindsey is busy most of the week doing big girl stuff, her mommy said she can come over and play with you every Wednesday after school."

Me: 1

Savannah: 1

Lindsey: 1

You guys: Rock

When and IF Savannah ever finds out I'm paying Lindsey, I'm thinking something like this:

"Well, when big girls play with little girls it's the responsibility of the big girl to keep the little girl safe because she's older. So, sometimes the little girl's mommy will pay the big girl to thank her for doing such a good job."

What do you think?

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