"Hey," I whispered to The Man Who Puts Up With Me. "Got a favor to ask."
He groaned, and I knew what he was thinking.Something to fix, something that needs doing. Something that would take all day. He's my number one fix it guy, even though he doesn't get much done around here because he's gone so much, and when he is home, he's tired and just wants to relax or mess around with the family. "What?" he asked warily.
"I think you should have the drug talk with our Youngest," I said. "He thinks you're the best, and looks up to you."
"Got it," His thumb went up. This was an easy task, something he wouldn't find work at all.
For those of you who don't have children or who engage in recreational drugs, it might come as a wonder as to why parents take the time to speak occasionally of how not to do drugs, how to look cool at parties while dumping the beer down the sink, how to say "no" in 100 different ways. Early on in our marriage, we decided it was much easier to encourage the kids to live without drugs rather than dealing with rehab, or an early death, or a lifetime of unnecessary struggle.
Now don't get me wrong. We weren't saints as kids, something we've admitted to our children. My parents never said a word to me about drugs until I was way past 17 and by then it was way too late. And although I like a beer now and then, I've come to understand that my body no longer tolerates the stuff. Most of all, I've admitted to myself that the kids who grew up in our extended family where booze was always present versus the nephews and nieces who never saw it in their homes now live very different lives. In short, I like the ones who never had the stuff around and they are far more wealthy and successful. So it doesn't matter that I probably never drew a sober breath my freshman year of college. I can just see how much those people who remained sober just did better all the way around compared to me.
I expect the boys to drink and maybe even try something they shouldn't in their life. But I don't want them to have my blessing if they get stoned. I probably will be that nagging voice in the back of their head.
All that said, The Man Who Puts Up With Me took Youngest and the dog on a walk. And this is somewhat how the conversation went:
Man: So if you get sad or depressed, and someone offers you drugs, what will you do?
Youngest: Can I still play my music?
Man: Of course!
Youngest: (putting up his thumb) Then we're all good. No problem.
Man: (stumbling to overcome his surprise) Okay. Uh....now supposed you are ticked off at Mom and Dad and you storm out of the house. You know someone who has drugs available. What do you do?
Youngest: Can I still play my music?
Man: Uh, sure!
Youngest: Then we're good!
Man: (Fumbling for ideas) Uh...well, how about if you are at a party and kids are pressuring you to drink.
Youngest: Is there music there?
And so the conversation went on. Apparently music is the ultimate drug repellent.
And besides making me laugh, I thought about it for a long time afterward. Music is his life, and now gives him a moral compass. This gift for the desire to play the piano, guitar and percussion spills over in a way too mysterious for for us to comprehend. What keeps him grounded is less about my husband and I but more of notes on a page, tuned instruments and all of us singing.
It makes me think about caroling this year, how maybe it's important in a way that I don't realize. That conversation makes that drive to boy's choir practice worth more than the time I spend on the road. The time I spend in the audience during his concerts, listening to him practice, asking strangers if he can practice on the piano in the entryway (think hospital) and sitting through hours of recitals may be a price of keeping our kid out of bigger trouble. It's a price I am willing to pay for sure. It was a surprise, but a pleasant one.