Hello dear readers. The topic of my column this week is a very serious one. An issue touched myself and my family that many television families have been touched by throughout the years. I will get right to the point and tell you that to topic of my column is drugs. Not the kind I give to my daughters to put them to sleep at 7pm, not the kind I get from my therapist to even me out, I'm talking about the illegal kind. The kind that can get a person addicted, arrested, murdered, or killed.
Let me back up.
Last Thursday, I had taken a vacation day from my job as a journalist for the local shopper newspaper insert to get some things done around the house and get caught up on my paperwork. I was in the basement that particular sunny afternoon, duteously missing the daylight in order to take care of all the washing, drying, hanging and ironing that goes on in a family's home in a week. I must have been going at it hard for a few hours at least because I can barely remember them. Laundry and ironing take me a lot longer now than they used to, ever since Woman's Day printed an article about how fabric softener might cause cancer. Now I have to iron each item immediately as I take it out of the dryer. I feel like a Puerto Rican laundry lady from the 1950s sometimes. All I need is a Spanish accent and a steam press.
I remember I was watching Dr. Phil on the black-and-white portable I had set up on the folding table when I reached into the dryer and pulled out a pair of Chelsie's jean pants. What I found inside her front pocket was not April fresh and it definitely wasn't the Snuggle bear like they show you on TV. It was small, long and white. I didn't know what it was immediately. I thought it could have been a tampon. But no, it was too skinny for that. I thought it could be a star scroll, but Chelsie isn't into astrology. Finally I put it in my mouth and smoked it. Sure enough, I realized once I had finished that it was a marijuana "joint". I was horrified! How could such an evil thing find it's way into my innocent daughter's life? Even though I have every marijuana-related episode of Seventh Heaven on tape, I wasn't prepared for it to happen to my family. It's as though it just sneaks in through the dryer, like radon. And, like radon, marijuana has no detectable odor. But once it gets into your lungs, it can be deadly. It can cause anything from cancer to epilepsy.
My mind drifted back to my own childhood. I remember experimenting when I was a girl Chelsie's age, but we never went so far as to actually try something illegal. When I was a teenager my girlfriends and I used to get our rebellious thrills off legal catnip by "whipping it". That's where you take a deflated balloon, exhale your smoke into it, then suck it back into your lungs, then exhale back into the balloon, and repeat until you pass out. My friends and I could get high that way off a single hit of harmless catnip, and I think we all suffered surprisingly little brain damage from the asphyxiation.
For the next couple hours after that, I just laughed at NBC Thursday. But once the local news came on I went upstairs to have a serious conversation with my daughter about choices, rules, peer pressure, and drugs. I had debated about waiting for my husband to come home so we could deal with the problem together, but he has been so stressed with work lately, having to stay late almost every night of the week and some nights not even making it home at all, I decided to spare him the grief and take care of this one myself. My poor guy always looks so sweaty and exhausted when he comes home that I worried another stress factor might de-actualize him. And besides, I recently took a test in Us Magazine and scored as a Super Mom, so I can feel comfortable handling just about anything.
I knocked on my daughter's door. "Come in, mom" came her innocent-sounding voice. It was hard to believe that my sweet little girl had become such a twisted criminal. I sat down with her on the bed and told her I had found a "joint" in her jean pants this afternoon. At first she tried to deny it was hers, but I'm not stupid enough to buy that. I remember when the Camdon girl tried the same thing on her dad. Eventually, she came clean and admitted it was hers, but swore she had only smoked it one time before with her friends and they had given it to her for free. I asked her, why? Why did you do this, honey? Why did you go along with the crowd and do something you know is dangerous and deadly? Tears formed in her eyes as she looked at me. This was my baby. She started to open up to me about how she was feeling empty and confused inside, looking for someone to accept her, but then my cell phone rang and it was my girlfriend Doreen... and well it was a good half-hour before I could get off the phone, and by that time Chelsie had gone into the bathroom to take a shower.
Once she came back I began my lecture where I had left off. I warned her how smoking marijuana can get her arrested, make her crash her car, and get a person infected with herpes. It also funds Osama bin Laden's terrorist network, which I learned about in a public service announcement. She told me that the only reason she had agreed to smoke the joint is so she her friends wouldn't laugh at her for not smoking cigarettes. I reminded her that the logic of a fourteen year old girl is often rather flawed, and personally I would rather she smoke something like cigarettes that are better for her health than some dirty "doobie" filled with marijuana infected with God-knows-what. I also told her that whenever her friends try to get her to smoke marijuana again, she should suggest they engage in a healthy, non-addictive activity like going to Starbucks instead. She could also inform them that smoking marijuana is "not cool" and threaten to call a police officer. I think she will become more popular in school if she stands up for herself like that. She could be a leader, but only if she stays away from doing what the other kids are doing, and that means staying off drugs, and being sure school administrators and other authority figures are aware of any illegal drug use her peers might be engaging in.
Finally I left her with a stern warning not to do it again and a promise to that I will keep it between us and not tell her father as long is this was the first and last time. She knows now that there is no reason she needs to take illegal drugs to feel loved and accepted when one can get a perfectly good natural high off kava kava, Benadryl and Flonase. Her mother's confidence and trust can go a long way, as well. But if she ever does it again, even once, I'll send her to one of those humiliating teen boot camps like they show on Maury, or sell her to that sultan I heard about on 60 Minutes.
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