This is the 25th anniversary of Responsibility.org. Twenty-five years. Whoa. That sounds like a long time doesn't it? To celebrate, they asked me to dig up a picture of myself from 25 years ago that I could share. My first thought was, "I need to call my mom, because I need baby pictures."
What?? I was an English major in college, not a math major. I'm not so good with numbers ... or aging.
Twenty-five years ago I hadn't met the Hubs yet. I definitely wasn't thinking about raising kids. That girl on The Great Wall could barely take care of herself!
Flash forward 25 years and now I've got two kids, a husband, a mortgage, a minivan, a snack schedule for baseball, and a Target Red Card. Basically, I'm living the dream, folks. That girl on The Great Wall is like, "Yes! I hoped it would be like this someday!"
I've got an 11-year-old son who thinks I'm just about the dumbest person on the planet right now. I could say, "The sky is blue, Gomer" and he'd have to check with three of his closest buddies to make sure that's what they think too. If one of them says, "Nope. It's yellow," then I'm lost to Gomer. "Sorry, Mom. You're wrong. Felix says the sky is yellow. I'm going with Felix on this one." When I tell him Felix is an idiot, his eyes go dead and he tunes me out ... or does he???
I remember those days. I remember being that kid who thought my parents were dolts. I remember rolling my eyes so hard at my parents I thought they might fall out of my head. I remember thinking they were so old and so out of it. I couldn't imagine they were ever young or ever had to deal with the pressures that I was dealing with. I thought they were nosy and bossy, always telling me what to do and how to behave.
They thought I was a moron who only did whatever the VJs on MTV told me to do. They thought I wasn't listening to them and their guidance, but I was. Surprisingly, a lot of their rules and their advice seeped in through my thick skull, even with my Walkman turned up to full volume.
Twenty-five years ago I was in college. Twenty-five years ago I was on my own and making my own decisions without mommy and daddy there to tell me when to go to bed, when to eat a salad, when to turn in my homework, and how to get home from a party when I had too much to drink.
Good thing they hammered all of that into me 35 years ago! That way I could be ready when I was on my own in college. I pulled all-nighters, but I could still hear my mom's voice nagging me to get some sleep. I ate popcorn and ice cream while I pulled those all-nighters rather than celery and cucumbers, but I could hear my dad suggesting I at least try low-fat ice cream. I went to parties and had a few drinks and always made sure that I had a designated driver. Salads and sleep were negotiable, but a designated driver wasn't.
You see? The important parts rub off on our kids. This is why we need to talk to our kids and stress to them now how to be responsible in the future and take control of situations so that they can always be safe. You can't eat a salad and take a nap tomorrow if you die in a drunk driving accident tonight.
Gomer and Adolpha might give me withering looks or seem like they're tuning me out when I talk to them about responsible drinking, but I know that some of what I'm saying is getting through, because it got through to me.
I know that they can't help but listen to me sometimes, especially if I talk about it enough. And when they least expect it. Yeah, I've been known to stand outside the bathroom door and yell, "Underage drinking is really uncool, Adolpha. It's illegal and dangerous!" And then she yells back, "Ohmygod, Mom, I know!! Please shut up, I'm trying to wash my hair!" But you know what? Now every time she washes her hair she'll remember my words.
A lot of us have got kids who are growing up fast and learning a lot and questioning things and pushing the boundaries. They think they don't need us anymore. They're kind of right. They're past the point where they need us to take them to the potty or cut up their hot dogs. But we can't get get too comfortable, because they do still need us. In fact, I would argue they need us more now than they did when they were little. Start the conversation today. It's working. Drunk driving and underage drinking are at record lows thanks to parents talking about (and showing) responsible alcohol consumption. You might not think they're listening, but they are. You're still the most influential person in their life, even if they won't admit it to you.
Where were you 25 years ago?
I was compensated to write this post, but as always, these are my own thoughts. I always like writing these Responsibility posts, because we're all in the same boat and when I write these posts, it gets us all talking and I always learn something from you guys. It takes a village to raise these buggers, right!?
Read my other Responsibility.org posts here:
Figuring Out Why I Drink
Do You Let Your Kids Sip Alcohol?
My Funny Bone Probably Needs Some Fixing
This Year I Resolve to Be More Responsible