Over at Frenemy's last night for a barbecue. Our children, who have been friends since toddlerhood or even earlier, are now becoming teen-agers. And some interesting issues are cropping up. Like alcohol.
One friend allows her 14-year-old son to have a beer and to sit in with the grown-ups. The rest of us might allow the odd sip of champagne on New Year's Eve in our homes. In the UK there is no law against allowing your children to drink alcohol in your home, according to Frenemy's brother-in-law who is a policeman.
I started having sips of my dad's Saturday afternoon after cutting the grass beer when I was quite young. I started drinking shots with my brother when my parents were out when I was (gasp!!) 9. I had my first proper hangover when I was 11.
I'm not an alcoholic but I probably fall into the binge drinker category. I'm not a great role model. But I don't want my kids drinking. Not yet. A lot of problems begin with alcohol. Violence, pregnancy, unwise sex. I suppose in the safety of our own home it wouldn't be a problem. But if they start at home at 14, they'll be in clubs and bars soon enough.
Another friend's daughter is 15 and looks much older. She frequents the bars of our town, according to my daughter. I don't know if my friend knows and I don't know if I should tell her. It was told to me in confidence. It was told to my daughter by the girl's sister in confidence. Would I want to know if I were in her shoes? That's a tricky one because 15 is a vulnerable age for girls. You can lose their respect, their confidence. You can ground them, keep them from their friends, and they'll hate you. Here's where an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It's a small place around here. Everybody knows everybody or is friends of friends of friends. It will get back to my friend at some point. Should she have allowed her daughter to drink at home? Would that keep her out of the bars? Actually, she did allow her to drink at home and at social functions. Going to the bars is not about the alcohol. Even I know that.
My kids ask for the odd sip of wine or beer, which is what I drink mostly anyway. I let them have one. Am I being irresponsible?
Maybe it's time to have a talk with my kids.