Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Am I Right?

A woman I like and respect has put me in a bit of a pickle. Typically, on the questions she asks, the concerns she raises, I don't hesitate to chime in.  "Kids like rules" and similar aphorisms clutter the comment box on her blog and on Facebook.  I believe everything I write, and I am always certain that I am correct in my thinking.  She's always seemed happy to hear my advice, my opinions, my suggestions.  I'm not sure how she'll respond this time.  Then, again, I'm not sure what I'm going to say. 
"Tween son keeps offering to make me a margarita. I have either done a really bad job as a parent, or a really great job."

My judgmental parental self said Bad Job almost immediately.  First, I had to take a moment to read the statement again. This didn't seem like sharing-a-snippet-from-my-adorable-child's-life; to me, it seemed that she was truly wondering.  To me, that last clause had a raised eyebrow and a questioning tone.  I like this woman.  I respect this woman.  I wanted to answer her honestly.

All the comments were positive, laughing, sharing similar personal tales. A nine year old who knows which glasses hold which liquors.  A son who topped off a wine glass and asked for a tip.  I've been following these same people and their comments for several years, now.  I've never been so much on the other side, until now.

I was ready to start typing, and then I read the comments again.  They were light-hearted and sharing that end-of-the-day-and-I've-had-it parenting space over a glass of wine or a margarita.  My friend has blogged about her margarita machine, so I know it's her alcoholic beverage of choice.  I know that the machine is colorful and makes a great noise before producing a fluffy and tasty concoction.  I know my friend sips and smiles and is happy as she raises her glass to her mouth; how could I be so churlish as to deny her son the opportunity to bring her such joy?

Have I turned into the grumpy old lady who sits by the side of the pool, yelling at the kids to be quiet?  Am I missing a happy piece to the puzzle?  I've been thinking about it since Saturday, and still I'm not sure.

We didn't have alcohol at playgroup, even though it was from 4-6pm.  I was a strong proponent of dry team parties, to demonstrate to the young athletes that grown ups could have a good time without imbibing spirits. I rarely won that battle, but I always felt comfortable making my case.  

I'd give the kids a sip of whatever I was drinking, if they asked.  They never liked the taste.  Of course, I never made margaritas.  My bar tending skills extend to pouring liquid into a glass and not spilling.  Mixed drinks are beyond my ken.  Little Cuter was a fan of the Virgin Colada and the Shirley Temple, but more for the sweetness than the mocktail nature of the drink. I certainly never made one at home... I'm just not that talented.

So there's my friend, wondering if she's led her lad down the path of wreckage and ruin, fearing she's created a monster margarita maker, an enabler of her .... her what? There's nothing wrong with a cocktail at the end of a long day... or a short day... or any day if you're not driving and you're not getting drunk.  She's an adult.  She can make her own choices.

She'd be giving her son the opportunity to make her smile, to present her with something she likes. He offered to do it for her, he's demonstrating his love, he enjoys the process... what is my problem?


20 comments:

  1. I tend to agree with you AB. If he is making them for her, whats to stop him from making them for his friends when Mom is not home. But then there was never very much liquor in our house, my mother's stepdad was an alcoholic.

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    Replies
    1. There is that whole "look what I can do!" thing with friends, Ellyn. Locking up the liquor (like the weapons) might solve that issue.....
      a/b

      Delete
  2. I think we sometimes share too much with the outside world. This isn't something I would be proud to put on my FB page or blog. Maybe it's just me. Don't get me wrong... I love a good cocktail, but I would prefer to not include my children in an adult activity such as drinking alcohol. I'm sure she put it up jokingly, but again, I wouldn't do it. I would also look at why my son feels I need that drink. Does he like me better when I've had a drink to relax or is he truly asking just to make me happy. Either way, there's a problem.

    I always say go with your gut when it comes to something like this.

    What a dilemma.


    Megan xxx

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    1. And I think that is why she posted the thing in the first place... I wasn't sure it was pride... I really thought she was wondering.

      "Trust your gut" has always worked for me, too. That's why I wrote this... my gut said "NO" but I seemed to be such an outlier...

      Once again, the denizens of The Burrow help me work it out.
      a/b

      Delete
  3. No, no, no--she should just say no. I hope her own gut also made her hesitate, causing her to ask for advice (I hope) by putting such a thing on Facebook. As the child of alcoholics and the sister of an alcoholic, all of whom are already dead due to their alcoholism, I am biased. But I think you are right to be disturbed by this, and I hope that your friend is as well, and that she trusts her own gut if she is.

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    Replies
    1. Your bias is well-founded, Little Cheese. I worry.... oh, I worry.
      a/b

      Delete
  4. I guess I am really out of touch with today's world! IMHO your friend and most of her posters drink way too much. Children who offer to make margaritas, top off wine glasses and know which drinks go in which glasses (really? you can't just put your very occasional wine in a water glass? lol) know too much about alcohol already and are headed toward their own problems, again, my opinion. I don't think you are a grumpy old lady at all - I am certainly on the other side with your thinking on this one also.

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    Replies
    1. It was the "out of touch with today's world" piece that got me, ForestGirl. There are so many many temptations out there. Glamorizing one of them makes me antsy.
      a/b

      Delete
  5. Throwing out my (semi-contradictory) two cents. I was right in line with you at the start of the post, but as I heard more about the margarita maker I fundamentally changed my opinion. If this kid was a wanna-be bar tender who wanted to carefully measure and mix and stir and taste and tweak his concoction then that I think would be indicative of an affinity for the alcohol itself. Instead, once you described the machine it struck me like the kid who wants to play with their parent's amazing sound system - it's the "cool adult toy" in the house and getting to use it helps the kid feel like they're more grown up.

    Now, you obviously have to be more careful about the extent to which the kid plays with the margarita machine than the kid who plays with the sound balancer. But I think this can be suggestive of a desire to "be like mom and dad" rather than, "my son is a 9 year old alcoholic". As long as the parents are engaged and actively pay attention to how their actions are being perceived and parroted by their kid, I don't think this is necessarily a red flag.

    Something to acknowledge and pay attention to, yes. Something to call child protective services over, no.

    -Big Cuter

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nice to see that I raised you right! It's all in the attitude, as one commentor on FB said to her. Paying attention is key, as you say. Since I know her as an involved and devoted parent, I'm not too worried.
      a/b (mom)

      Delete
  6. I am no tee-totaler; I drink beer or wine nearly every day (but usually only one or maybe two). However, if my tween son knew how to make a margarita, I would not be proud.

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    1. We are so very different than the casual commentors on my friend's FB page.

      I'm taking refuge in Big Cuter (Billy, above)'s analysis.... it's a cool toy and he wants to play.

      I worry, as you do, about the whole thing.
      a/b

      Delete
  7. A child showing love by serving a drink?!?

    A 'tween is entering the age of giving into peer pressure....which, of course, usually includes alcohol use. The FB mom is sadly naive if she doesn't understand that when he is with his friends he is bragging about his knowledge, if not showing it off.

    Personally, by junior high I understood that beer and sherry were adults-only drinks and by high school I knew the names of a few mixed drinks, but I can't imagine my parents allowing me to handle liquor. I saw my nephews raise their now-adult children the same way.

    Treating this in a lighthanded manner on FB may be something that comes back to bite her in the future.

    We have one wonderful nephew-in-law who comes from a hard-drinking family. I already see the younger teens in that family opening beers for their uncles and sneaking a swig as they pour...and the uncles getting a laugh out of it.

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    1. I'm back with you, Anonymous. I've been mulling and stewing and I come back to what has been the irrefutable analysis of my parenting: the only things I regret are those when I didn't trust my gut.
      a/b

      Delete
  8. After staying quiet for a bit, I would like to say a few things about this. I'm trying (really hard) to be factual and not negative or defensive, so please forgive me if this seems curt.

    After my husband was gone for 6 days on a business trip and I spent that time working, shuttling the kids (8 and 12) to club wrestling practices and tournaments, and taking my older son back and forth to the doctor for an awful infection, my 12 year old heard on the news Friday that it was National Margarita Day.

    I like margaritas. Once a month or so when I have an alcoholic drink, it's my beverage of choice. Just one, usually. I am well aware of what it's like to live with an alcoholic, so I have always been careful with the way I portray alcohol around my kids.

    With my son feeling better and the long week coming to a close, on Saturday night he asked if I had a margarita on National Margarita Day. "No," I replied - "we were too busy. They have a day for everything, it seems, and surely there will be another day to celebrate."

    "Well you have been taking care of us all week long. Can I make a margarita for you?"

    "No, I said. I don't really want one right now, and you don't need to be playing with alcohol."

    "Please Mom? Just let me make you one quick. You missed National Margarita Day and you have had a busy week..."

    That's how the story went. I don't have a fancy machine to make them in (I wanted to point that out since many of you assumed he wanted to play with the machine), nor was it my younger son who was trying to bartend for me. It was my kind and thoughtful older son who wanted to do something nice for me, after a long week. We definitely don't ban alcohol around our house, nor is it really important. In his eyes, offering to make me a margarita was the equivalent of offering to make his little brother his favorite brownies.

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    1. (Becca and I have talked about this privately, too)

      Really, readers, she's a great mom with great values and attitude. Read my March 15th post for a summation.

      a/b

      Delete
  9. This post feels kinda like gossip to me and I am not comfortable reading it. Is this what you do in your playgroups? Talk about friends when they are not there? I know Becca replied, so she had the privilege of at least being able to read it and respond.

    You need to realize that publicly criticizing someone's parenting is unkind. No, you did not list her name. But she was still subjected to the hurtful words in these comments. All of them totally irrelevant to her since none of the commenters know her personally.

    If you were bothered by the subject of a tween pouring his mom alcohol, then write a post stating your stance on locking up alcohol like you lock up guns. This world is a much better place when we are encouraging, sharing our views - but a much worse place when we tear each other down and scoff at a parent's story.

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    1. Well said. And well Ashleigh I had a much longer response in support of my best friend I reserved to privately send it to her. She is a SUPER mom and before I had kids I only wished one day I could follow her supportive footsteps in raising two pretty fantastic and thoughtful boys.

      I don't know your blog, I don't know what you write about, and had I come across this post not knowing who the person you were criticizing personally I would've had the same gut wrenching response. I started blogging to have a space of my own, to meet other parents, to have a supportive community. Not to have a platform to bring down other people, put their stories on display to be criticized. And I am certainly not going to go and write a blog post on whether your choice to provide samplings of alchool to your children is ethical or a good parenting decision. I don't need an audience to tell me "I'm right". Opinions are that and we should be free to have them, but please think before hitting the publish button next time when you want to bring somebody down so you can have a pat on the back.

      Delete
    2. Ah, Mommy Wars.....

      I was really asking the question... not trying to put anyone down. It was a conversation, not a screed. I was startled when one of my "good mom role models" posed the question; I was looking for analysis and I found it.

      I'm writing more about it today; look at the post tomorrow (3/15/13).
      a/b

      Delete
  10. My playgroup days are decades old, but we did talk about things like this... respectfully disagreeing, sharing truths and fears, and knowing we were loved by our interlocutors. The difference is the public sharing .... I feel like the Burrow is peopled by those with whom I regularly engage in conversation.... the gossip piece was not on my mind when I posted.

    I'm writing more about it today; read it tomorrow (3/15/13) if you want to see where I've gone with this.
    a/b

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