Sunday, July 19, 2009

Relaxation and responsibility

Sunset Beach is still an amazing place, just as I remembered it. We've been coming here since our early days at Durham Academy, courtesy of our friends Lyn and Dave Gould who bought a weekend stay here at the DA auction. Several couples piled into cars and we spent a few days just hanging out together and playing Gould's made-up game called sand tennis. We continued coming here with friends, eventually bringing our own boys down for a week nearly every summer. I haven't been here since the summer of 2004. We have a great house on the 4th row and I can see the Atlantic Ocean from the rooftop deck.
Last night, our 21 year old son decided to make drinks for us. He fancies himself a budding bartender and asked if I'd ever had a mojito. I am not a big fan of mixed drinks, but it sounded good. I mean, how can you possibly go wrong with fresh mint leaves, lime, sugar syrup and club soda? The only drawback, as far as I could tell, would be that he was adding rum to it. The result was a very refreshing, not at all sweet drink. I sipped mine on the rooftop "veranda" and enjoyed every drop. The BFF, who just happens to be a 20 minute stroll down the beach with her family, came over and Jake took great pleasure in making a drink for her, too.
So, now for the question of the week. This is Jake's first summer of drinking with his parents since he turned 21 last November. We did not allow him to drink around us before he turned 21. How do you teach your children how to drink responsibly? I grew up a good Southern Baptist where drinking is not allowed. I distinctly remember a framed document on the wall of my grandmother's church forbidding the consumption of alcohol. It was right next to the Ten Commandments and my grandmother, Granny, took it very seriously. The legal drinking age was 18 at that time and I did not drink until the spring of my freshman year in college (well, with the exception of a couple of glasses of hard cider during the French Club trip to Québec during my senior year in high school- with my French teacher's approval). One March evening at Appalachian State, a couple of my friends thought it would be funny to initiate me with gin and 7-Up and I have not had gin since. And that was in 1977.
You see, my dad was an alcoholic. I loved him dearly but did not understand why he couldn't just stop. Couldn't he see what he was doing to his young family? Did he not have any willpower at all? Since first talking about my dad's problem in my early 30's (I only admitted it to two people, my college roommate and my husband, before that), I've learned quite a bit about alcoholism. I've talked to others who have or had alcoholic parents or family members and even some friends who are recovering alcoholics, all in an attempt to understand and make sense of my childhood. Memories of those years kept me from even wanting to try alcohol and then when I did begin to drink occasionally I had "rules" to live by-- no drinking alone, no drinking when upset, etc. My overriding concern is that there is a genetic propensity to alcoholism. I have talked to my boys about their grandfather and about other family members with addictive personalities and my fear for them. Our school has alcohol awareness programs, as do most schools. Just telling your kids to say no and to wait until they are legal simply isn't enough, as most parents and teachers would agree. They do need to know about consequences, how drinking and driving is a lethal combination, how research shows that the younger one drinks the more likely one is to have a drinking problem, that drinking, within limits, is okay.
So, back to my original question-- how do you teach your children to drink responsibly? Why do young Europeans seem more responsible? Because there is no taboo in Europe concerning drinking? Because parents teach their children about pairing wine and food? I did try to ask questions and gather information while in France during my sabbatical. There were a few magazine articles about university students binge drinking in France. I must admit that I was very grateful that England was referenced as being a bad influence and not the U.S.
I do not mind if Jake drinks with us now that he is 21. I just want him to be smart and be responsible. Isn't that what all parents want for their children? We do all we can to try and keep them safe, but we have to turn them loose eventually. All we can do is hope that we have taught them well. And take deep breaths.
My current beach read: Trail of Crumbs: Hunger, love and the Search For Home by Kim Sunée. This is the story of a Korean orphan adopted by an American couple and her search for where she belongs. She is most comfortable in the kitchen. Ms. Sunée is very generous with her recipes, too!

Jake's Mojito
Take a tall transparent glass. Pick 8-10 mint leaves off the stem and place them in the bottom of the glass. Cut a lime into quarters and put it in the glass on top of the mint. Crush the lime and the mint. Fill the glass with ice. Add two shots of Bacardi Superior Rum. Add three tablespoons of simple syrup (boiled sugar water). Fill the glass to the top with club soda and stir thoroughly.

No comments: