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What do you do when your kids are old enough to ask about drugs?

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Here’s something I never thought about at any after-party, ever:

What will I tell my kids about my own experience with illegal drugs?

In my late teens and 20s, I didn’t necessarily ever want children, so living my life with any regard to setting an example was not a priority. Partying with my friends was the priority.

However, by my 30s, when I was pregnant with my first son — let’s call him Jaime — things changed and I knew that one day I may be held accountable for my reckless youth. I read an article back then, and it basically said that when the time comes to talk about drugs with your kids, be as honest as possible about your own drug use without condoning it. Sounded reasonable enough. I had a plan.

Now Jaime and his little brother — let’s call him Tyrion — are in elementary school, where they recently had Drug Awareness Week. 

This totally caught me off guard, because when it comes to things I dread, like certain conversations, postponing dealing with those conversations until some vague time in the future is the road I travel most often. Middle school; that’s what I always told myself was the logical time to address this issue. 

See, ain’t no way I’m ready for my 7- and 5-year-old to think it’s OK to do drugs just because their mom dabbled and came out unscathed. I didn’t become addicted, go to jail, O.D, get in a terrible car crash, or experience anything too life-changing — but others I know did not fare so well.  

You just don’t know how far into the rabbit hole anyone will go.

Because of the sad things I’ve seen happen to people I care about; because of the way addicts can become unrecognizable from the person you once knew; and because I understand that there is nothing you can do to make them stop using if they don’t want to, my kids getting into drugs is one of my biggest fears. 

On the last day of Drug Awareness Week, the questions came.

Jaime: What is a drug? 

Me: A chemical that people put in their bodies that makes them think, feel or act differently.

Tyrion: Do you do drugs? 

Me: No. (Grateful he didn’t say, “Have you ever done drugs?” That was a close call, but pretty sure I would’ve straight-up lied in that moment.)

Jaime: Do we know anyone who does drugs?

Me: Your Grandpa D, who has had a very hard life because of his drug problems. (Yes, I made my dad the scapegoat, but his drug abuse is common knowledge if you know the guy).

They were surprised, and seemed satisfied with my answers, and of course I told them I don’t want them ever doing drugs. 

I realized then, though, that I’m not going to be nearly as honest about my past as Idealistic Future Mom Me once was. Nope, I’ll take that road most travelled by parents — the one that goes, “What I did before you came along is none of your damn business, kid — at least, not yet.”  

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