Parenting Without the Law

They want to legalize marijuana in California. Great. Yet another conversation to have with my daughter.

Maybe it’ll be easy. Already she thinks that cigarettes are horrible, and the hardest thing has been getting her to tone down her remarks and smoke-fanning gestures when we walk by someone who’s choosing to smoke. So we talked about how nicotine is addictive, how people can find it difficult to quit, and how some folks will choose to smoke anyway because of how it makes them feel, even though it’s dangerous. Hopefully she’ll just put pot in the same category — and she won’t let a buzz from a pot brownie or two turn her into one of those loveable pothead dealers I called friends in college.

But then there are the other conversations about dangerous things that are legal. Like sex. And pregnancy. We’ve already talked about how you can’t just be a mommy, there has to be a daddy, too. And you can’t just have a kid with anybody, it has to be the right person. And you want to wait until you’re both old enough and can make enough money to pay the bills. But that’s not the whole conversation. There needs to be the conversation about sex, abstinence, contraception, abortion, and offering children up for adoption — all those things you want to think about before the hormones and pheromones have turned your brain to giddy mush.

And drinking. Thank goodness for Wicked, and the lovely green elixir and the baby turning green. If that’s not a public service announcement for not drinking when you’re pregnant, I don’t know what is. But there’s moderate drinking, and binge drinking, and alcoholism, and drinking until you throw up, and drinking and drugs — all those things that took me about two decades to learn. The hard way. The scary way. And the I-really-screwed-up-that-time way.

I can’t protect my daughter with laws. And she’s going to learn some things the hard way. But with a little effort on my part, maybe she’ll use her brain a little more than I did, or make better choices than I did.

How odd parenthood is. Doing everything you can with nurture, to fight the nature that you’ve passed along.

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