Monday, April 16, 2012

Keep The Sand Out Of Your Eyes

This is something I haven't addressed in quite a long time on this blog. If you have been around here a fairly long time you know that my oldest daughter began abusing alcohol and drugs when she was fourteen years old. No one was more surprised than us. We thought we had it covered. We learned there is no such thing. When it happened we had to accept that things were going wrong. We were up front and honest about it. People didn't know what to think. They preferred to avoid us. Avoid the situation. Avoid the truth. That's what this is about.

Earlier in the year I seemed to be assaulted by this topic in the media but I set it aside for awhile so I wouldn't be BWA (Blogging While Angry). We know how that goes ; ). The sequence of events led me to outraged outbursts at the newspaper and tv. They can't hear me. I'm going to measure this out as it came to me.

The PTA of my children's high school has been fundraising and spending money and time on a campaign to teach teenagers about the dangers of skin cancer and sun safety. They are building a roof over part of a patio area. A worthy cause. Sure it is. I agree. Nearly everyone in my family has had non melanoma skin cancer, I'm just waiting for mine to show up and,  as a responsible parent, have been loading my kids with sunscreen and teaching them why since they were babies. All the way back in 1987 I knew that kids should use sunscreen.

Here's the problem. The PTA of my children's school has been fundraising and spending money and time on a campaign to teach teenagers about the dangers of skin cancer and...

This is a problem I have with my community in general. Recently in the paper and on the news the following survey information was reported:

In a report that had tons of numbers and breakdowns but this is the main idea.
2010 State youth substance abuse survey for our county.

66.9 % of high school students have used alcohol or any elicit drug.

2012-01-25: Alcohol, tobacco and drug use among middle school students in ( My County) is down across the spectrum, while substance and drug abuse is up for high-schoolers living in the (Specific Area I live) communities, according to the second biennial Youth Risk Behavior Survey released today.

There is only one high school in that area. That would be the one that is lodging a huge campaign about using sunscreen. The one with the bar featured in the yearbook.

Many in my community, including parents,  turn a blind eye to partying. Last year Mids High School yearbook featured a local bar as a landmark. Did no one question this? No. That's the mentality around here.

Earlier this year, our local news reported on the death of a student from a nearby county who was attending college out of state.
He was 21 years old. The official cause of death:

"respiratory depression due to acute alcohol intoxication."

Everyone had nothing but praise for this young man. He was described as, "a role model and a leader."  He was an excellent student. An athlete. From what they had to say about him he had great promise for the future. He was a wonderful young man. I can't even begin to imagine the heartbreak of his parents.

His former high school principal was quoted. He said:

" everyone should focus on the life [he] lived, not how he died."

And that's the problem.

People should absolutely remember the good things about this young man. They should extol the virtues and promise he exhibited.

He should be held up as a role model for what can be accomplished.

But also for what can be lost.

 Many parents seem to think, my child does well in school, is involved in activities, has respectful friends. There is no way they are using drugs or alcohol.

I can almost hear the PTA parent from our high school now.

Where are you going?

Bobs brother is home from college and having a keg party at the pool. Don't worry. He said we can't have any.

Ok honey, have fun. But don't forget your sunscreen!

There is no such thing as over visiting this topic with our kids.

We battled it for 3 years with Biggest. Did what she saw prevent Middlest from bad decisions? No. Which is why during her high school years I caught her drinking once and stoned twice. Was I surprised? Yes. But the keyword here is 'caught' her. And talked. Again. About every horror imaginable from being impaired. That's 3 times compared to 3 years. Now, I trust Littlest implicitly. She cares about her health. She doesn't succumb to peer pressure. She says she doesn't get why people want to be impaired. She can't stand the smell of alcohol and nearly vomits if you merely breathe on her after communion. This Friday is her prom. No matter how tired I am, will I be sitting up waiting till 1 AM to see her in? Yes. I will.

One of the reasons I began this blog was to tell a truth. That even if you are a good parent things can go wrong.  There are wonderful young people who really do stay out of trouble. But even good kids sometimes make stupid decisions.  We can talk. We can teach. We can be role models. If we ignore it or deny it,  we are doing a disservice to our children. The hardest lesson we learned as parents was never to assume anything. Watch. Listen. Talk. Ask questions. Do focus on the irreparable harm that drugs and alcohol can cause. Doing these things WILL NOT give you a 100% Guarantee that nothing bad will happen. But pretending bad things would never happen and doing nothing could possibly guarantee they will.

© 2012 All Rights Reserved by MOTPG

P.S. I thought I would have today to catch up on blog reading, but now have to travel unexpectedly. I will answer comments when I get back and come by to visit asap. I'm very behind on some of your blogs and that drives me nuts!!


  1. Hear, Hear!!

    I've been lucky, so far, with my kids. But then again, I'm on them like white on rice. I actually think it's a good thing that both kids go to schools that they are not zoned for - it helps to prevent that "hanging out" and getting in trouble that I see so many kids in the area doing. I keep my fingers crossed that this trend will continue...

    I love your honesty. You rock!

    1. Thanks Lisa : ) Keeping our eyes open is the best we can all do!
      I'm thankful Mids rebellion was short lived and that Littlest gave herself the distinction of being "The Good Child" and probably won't give up that self proclaimed title easily!

  2. oh my gosh, thank you! i was JUST thinking about this today. my parents were exactly those parents "my kid is good, gets good grades, plays sports, goes to church, she's not going to mess around with that stuff." the one time i got caught i lied and said it was awful and they never really brought it up again. WAY too trusting. WAY too naive. i am years away from this stuff at this point, but i think it scares the heck out of me enough that i will be all over my kids about it. i will confess, however, i don't ALWAYS use sunscreen ;-)

    1. That's one thing I'm thankful for. I'd seen it enough myself to know what was up. I still had to battle but she came through alive!

      tsk-tsk- Elissa, I'll be reporting you to the PTA ; )

  3. My kids made so many mistakes I really began to doubt my ability to be a parent! And that was with me being very diligent and aware. Did that stop or prevent it? Nope. I don't think people take it seriously enough. They just think it's phase they'll outgrow. Well, they could outgrow it, if they are lucky enough to live through it, or they could end up alive and addicted.

    1. "Well, they could outgrow it, if they are lucky enough to live through it" You said it all right there!

      I doubted myself many times. It took her growing up and getting past it and telling me herself that I did everything I could and nothing would have stopped her until she was ready herself.

  4. I have learned that it doesn't matter how closely you watch them, kids are going to make bad choices. Usually, I'm there when she needs sunscreen, not when she is around drugs and alcohol so I'm with you, more education about substance abuse.

    1. Exactly Carol. We may not be able to stop it but we can damn sure let them know we're paying attention!

  5. (standing ovation) You have said a life full right here!I just don't know were to begin....All I can say is that we can not avoid the things that are killing our children and think that they will go away.

    1. It drives me crazy Nicole. Or school seems to refuse to admit there are issues, not just with the 'trouble' kids but with the kids that are maintaining too. If they dress nice and are sociable it seems to be, "Ah, they're just being kids." Which is how they participated in losing my oldest to the wolves.

  6. I'm standing right alongside Help Mama Remote above in her standing ovation.

    As the mother of three boys - yes I've been there and done that with my two oldest boys - youngest is a different child entirely.

    Hated every moment of it and also had middle son
    arrested on one occasion at the grand old age of 15 for property damage as a result of being drunk.

    I don't think I was as open or as blunt on my blog (I talked to my child but was too embarassed to put it out there) That's half the problem with society we bury out heads in the sand.

    Now that's he's driving,things have improved markedly and he understands and yes I wait up until he gets home and he knows that if he's even going to be a second late then he must text or phone.

    Education is a must and not about sunscreen!

    1. That's why I wanted to blog about it Fi. I couldn't find any place where parents who felt isolated and judged by their kids behavior could know they weren't alone. When you are trying your best and something goes wrong it can be a real blow to your parenting pride. All we can do is fight if it happens but I have seen too many people ignore these situations because they don't want to admit there are problems.

  7. Both of my kids "experimented" with drugs in high school. Neither of them continued to use anything after high school. Neither of them is much of a drinker today either. I think parents need to be aware of what is going on with their kids. Most probably they won't really tell you unless they are "caught". We also need to learn humility and NEVER say "My kid wouldn't do that!"

    1. You are so right about humility!

      Sadly my oldest didn't just experiment. Within a six month period she went from being a very sweet, shy, obedient, ambitious 14 year old honors student, to a violent, combative domestic terrorist. She would disappear for days at a time and live on the street or hide out with some very scary, dangerous people. Eventually she turned back into herself again and now I sometimes think, "I can't believe she actually did all that" : )

  8. My husband and I were very wild and partying kids. Likely because our parents had us in the early 60s the time of free love. We were very strict with our daughter to the point where we practically had her under house arrest. I don't regret it, I suspect there may have been times she drank but we impressed on her to never drive and for that I am grateful.

    Sorry I've been a crappy blogging friend, but thinking positive things for you and the girls.

    1. We were the same kind of strict, but unfortunately our oldest realized she could tell us to F off, disappear and go hide with some of the 'special friends' she made and we were in constant battle. But it all turned out fine in the end. She's one of the lucky ones that survived and is a really wonderful young woman now. I'm very proud of her.

      And not at all! You've been a busy lady. I totally get that : )


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