Posted by: laughs4dads | March 15, 2010

No Good Answer

In previous posts, I spoke about a horrifying question that a three-year-old might ask you.  Now let’s fast forward about a decade.

For those in a position to give child-rearing advice, my generation of parents posed a problem that had never before been encountered.

How, indeed, was a member of a generation that had probably ingested a greater quantity of mind-altering substances in three decades than in the rest of human history combined, supposed to answer the question, “So, dad, did you ever do drugs?”

Now I was, by no means, a druggie.  I didn’t smoke pot until I was in college because my parents had instilled in me an irrational fear that whatever bad thing could ever happen in any circumstance, would happen.  I was convinced that simply by coming in contact with even a roach, I would immediately be arrested, my future destroyed.

I have used cocaine exactly once in my life.  It had no effect.  I think it got blocked by stuffy sinuses.

However straight I might be, however, I am guilty by association.  No one who came of age in the 60’s and 70’s can credibly claim to have led a drug-free life.  (See Clinton, William Jefferson, “I didn’t inhale.”)

And so, as my daughter,Casey journeyed through middle and high school, there were these parent conferences during which counselors and policemen and psychologists advised parents about what to do when their children asked the inevitable question, “Did you ever do drugs?”

The answer, it seemed, was remarkably simple:  lie.

Yes, that is the sage advice that we parents received more often than not.  We should not plead the Fifth Amendment.   Nor should we invoke the Second Amendment, buy a gun, and kill ourselves.  We should say, with straight faces, without a drop of perspiration, and without quivering lips, that we had not used drugs.  That we had no idea what a bong was.  That we thought a dime bag was something you kept in the car for parking meters.

Barbara who, frankly, had a much more, shall we say, experimental youth than I did, seemed to think this was a fine idea.  But I had promised myself to be honest with my child.  So I quit smoking marijuana.  That way, when asked if I did drugs, I could give a Clintonian answer like, “I don’t use drugs.”

This was a solution I could live with, although it made me less fun at parties.

But here’s the thing.  Casey never asked.  We got all the way through high school without it ever coming up.  Until one evening, while out to dinner in Florida, when my mother, bless her heart, blurted out apropos of nothing, “So, honey, remember when you brought that joint home and we smoked it?”

She was referring to an event that occurred when I was 23 or so, and I can still remember my father’s expression as my mom and I giggled on the floor.  He looked as if he wanted to disown both of us.

And here was my mother, apparently having a flashback, confessing to my sins in front of my presumably still-impressionable daughter, who had, up until that point, blithely managed to show absolutely no interest in her parents’ wild pasts.

Casey responded by asking for the dessert menu.

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