Today, my kids are 11 and 12. And I am beginning to appreciate how fast they grow, on all fronts.
Most of my friends no longer travel solo, they usually bring extra peeps-like partners, kids and fourleggers to visit.
On Sunday our home was filled with laughter, swimming, conversation, hottubin, delicious food and warm company. There was a new face in our crowd, a 'best' friend of one of our younger guests.
One of my kids, after a day of social largesse, decided to get frustrated. This inspired rudeness, insensitivity and an eventual moodf***. I attempted to maintain my sanity.
After everyone left, the exhibition of drama escalated. I suggested a bike ride (in the dark) to release tension. And there I sat, waiting. Wondering if I had made a mistake. Hoping all would be well.
Upon child's return, relief washed over me and I prepared for bed. The frustration persisted and I was delivered the words: "I think a little space would be good for us right now". Of course I was OKAY with this. reasonable to say the least. However, what did it really mean?
As I walked around the house it became abundantly clear that only one child was under my roof. I did one of those ridiculous parent moves of checking the hot tub, the garage, and the side yard (hiding spots) in my attempt to calm. I considered the dryer, but they have both grown out of that one. My efforts were futile.
I waited. I wondered. I hoped.
My hair was turning gray by the second and my heart was aching. Worry developed. Anger too. I did open the front door a few times to LOOK outside and I did shout out, as any good parent would.
Turns out I was heard. My child was sitting in our friend's car engaging in conversation with two tall people. Eventually I was blessed with my child's mercurial presence.
The words that fell out of my breathless being: "Hi. I am so happy you are safe, truly. No matter how angry you may be, NEVER do that again. ALWAYS tell me where you are and what you are doing, especially when you do not have your phone, so I DO NOT WORRY. Do you understand?"
The next 24 hours were really bizarre.
My child was OFF to say the least, felt really weird, overly tired and decided sleep was the best medicine. I had two thoughts: drugs or hormones.
Luckily, the desire to TELL ME is still strong. I am asked to listen while my child comes clean and I suspect only half the truth was unveiled.
Turns out that new visitor (16 years old) gave my seemingly frustrated and moody 12 year old child a DAB PEN.
A dab pen is something which is used purely for the consumption of dabs. Dabs are tiny little concentrates of THC, instead of your more traditional dry herb or e-liquid. A dab pen is made up of the same components as a vape pen, and works more or less in the same way.
I understand the above definition. I am intrigued by the terminology and blown away by my own ignorance. As I was busy birthing babies and growing my home life, the world outside has blown up. CHEECH AND CHONG to WEEDS to BREAKING BAD. (omg)
My child used the dab pen and then threw it away (so I am told). Because we have no idea what was in the pen, I suggested researching popcorn lung, dab pens, the effects of pot, tobacco and any other vaping substances. There was surprise, regret, shame and some serious tears. Fear can do that, it can break you.
I wrapped my child in my arms and expressed my interest, concern, love and acceptance. I said as lovingly firm as possible: "This is only the beginning. You will be offered drugs for the rest of your life. Friends will make you feel bad for NOT participating, some may even threaten you. It will feel uncomfortable and can get really messy. The only power you have is your choice. Exercise it well. Whenever we get down or upset, it is easy to reach for a drug to numb the pain. And it is always tempting to do what others are doing. Dig deep, feel what is right for you. Being curious is natural. Try to look at the bigger picture...the consequences of your choices. Everytime I recall those moments where I said to myself 'nobody will know' or 'nothing bad will happen' I was COMPLETELY wrong. And it is very likely you will have similar experiences. Today's drug world demands education. Research and ask questions. Experimenting is real and being smart about what you put in your body is so important. This is LIFE OR DEATH stuff, really. People lie and people are mean. Protecting yourself and taking good care is the best way forward. Drugs today are terrifying."
I thought long and hard about contacting my friends (from that night) about what happened. In the end I kept the focus at home. As much as I wanted to explore the details, I truly believe everyone would hear blame and a monster of upset would be unleashed. Truth is, I don't have any idea what would have happened or how I would be received. I don't need to know. Today, all that matters is me, my kids and how we navigate this world in which we live. My life, my responsibility.
I bless the 40 years between us.