“Mom, did you ever smoke pot?”
Oh no. Here it comes.
“Oh no, honey. Never. Sucking poison into my lungs and brain wasn’t my thing,” I’d love to say.
Instead, I’m suddenly jealous of those girls who designated themselves drivers at high school parties – if they were invited, which they usually weren’t because hey, you felt likea criminal when they politely passed on a joint. In retrospect, those girls would have made excellent friends. The kind that pull you out of a corner when you feel so paranoid you can’t speak, the kind that can tell by your slur that you’ve had enough. Too bad they weren’t cool enough for me.
I respect those kids’ choices even more now that I’ve got my own dilemma: trashing my kids’ view of their mom by telling the truth or taking the easy way out and lying. With that one question in my face, I’m caught in a high stakes game of good old Truth or Dare. Serves me right.
Karma’s all over me these days, now that I’ve got teens.
Last year, at a wedding, I learned about some secret stuff my kids were up to. I grabbed my purse and my husband and we were outta there. First, though, I beelined for my high school boyfriend to say what would be a hasty hi and bye.
After a quick hug, he gave me that head-toe scan, launching me back to my tenth grade locker a la Being Erica.
You’re leaving? he asked. It was only 10:30. At 16, we’d just be heating up.
Yeah, I’ve got teens, I said. Gotta go deal.
He shot me the same dimpled grin that had us cutting class to roll around like wild animals, thinking we had the world figured out.
Karma’s a bitch, he said, all twinkling eyes. Truer words…
I used to feel hypocritical warning my kids not to smoke and drink and have sex – the very idiotic things I once thought I was old enough to do but wasn’t. Just ask any high school friend on my Facebook page about the legendary open parties chez moi growing up.
Back then, while I was sucking poison into my lungs, I was desperate to be liked – by my friends and ultimately, by myself. I was experimenting, often past what I knew were my limits, to feel and look and act tough. The cool persona did the trick for awhile.
I didn’t count on getting addicted to the feeling of going numb when the emotional going got tough. Soon, I thought nothing of killing off brain cells, rotting my lungs, and shutting my eyes while I risked my young life.
Was it fun? Sometimes. Sort of. Usually no. Because like Radiohead sings in their haunting song Karma Police, for a minute there (yeah, it was more than a minute), I lost myself.
The good news is that maturity eventually found me, and today, I have an arsenal of wisdom from all those missteps – a map that can help point the way. As a mom, I’ve got some pretty valuable street cred when I give advice and make rules. The generation gap is not wide because I know how it feels to crave what’s forbidden and to feel so insecure you do things you know are bad for you. I get why bonding over secrets feels like everything. I know what I’m talking about because I’ve been there, done that. (Hey, what’s this Visine doing in your coat pocket?)
So here’s my answer.
Yes, kids, I smoked pot. I did all kinds of crap growing up – because I thought it was easier to lose myself than listen to my inner voice. Yes, I was once a stupid ass teen who just happened to turn out fine and learn from her experiences. I was lucky. Sadly, some kids were not.
These days, while I’m constantly asking – OK, insisting – that my teens be honest about their lives, I’ve got to ante up. From me, this is what you’ll get, kids: The Truth. The time has come to come clean. It was a rough road – getting here – but no one said growing up was easy.