It’s three twenty-three in the morning and I can’t sleep. I picked up the kids from the Post Prom Party at the Main Event at the Mall, delivered the date safely home. I sent my tired but happy daughter off to bed, sat down in my comfy chair for a moment and sat on my car keys and set off my husband’s car alarm.
That got my adrenaline running.
But that’s not why I can’t sleep.
My daughter and her date were talking about the kids who got caught for drinking at the Prom. I’m not going to go into detail because these are all somebody’s kids. But it made me really sad. It’s clear that my daughter felt that, for every student whose drunkenness was obvious, there were others who didn’t get caught. It’s a hard task for the adults present to keep on top of.
I feel sad for kids who thought the only way to have fun at the Prom was to drink. I feel sad for those whose prom nights were cut short by their own foolish behavior. Yes, there absolutely must be boundaries and consequences but I can still feel sad about what could have been a happy night with friends being turned into a fiasco of shame and censure. Or worse, alcohol poisoning, a trip to the emergency room, or an alcohol-related car crash.
I first wrote about teens and alcohol in 2013 in this piece called The Price Of Coolness. I talked about how my parents didn’t really give me a compass with which to address drinking. I made some mistakes, got sick, recovered. I was lucky. I didn’t drive during those years. I wasn’t sexually assaulted while intoxicated. I had my own weird sense of what was “legal”. I never ordered liquor in a restaurant while underage and I never attended school events drunk. I drank at cast parties.
Now, as an adult, I realize how unbelievably lucky I was.
My daughter has never had a drink and at this point doesn’t want to. Someday that may change. My husband and I have had many conversations with her over the years about being safe around alcohol. I hope this has helped, but it’s hard to know. The fact that she came home safe tonight could be purely because of her own inner spirit and strength. The fact that she doesn’t hang out with a peer group that drinks could just be dumb luck.
I don’t judge anyone else. I’m not here to point fingers at other parents. I just want all of our kids to be safe and to feel they can relax and have fun without alcohol or drugs. I want them to come home to their parents at the end of the night and go on to do wonderful things.
One more thing.To all the adults who came out tonight so that our kids could have this special evening: thank you. Thank you for setting and enforcing the boundaries. Thank you for caring for our children. Thank you for all you do to keep them safe.