Saturday, November 7, 2009

Lemon Gin

I do feel sorry for first-borns. I’m one myself and I’m sure that I, too, was the subject of many parenting blunders unwittingly carried out by my mum and dad as they stumbled blindly through my adolescence. It’s only now that I’m a parent of a 13yr old that I understand precisely how little they did know, and exactly how challenging this whole parenting thing can be.

Take the teenage party, for example.

I was invited to a 15th birthday party for my friend ‘Heather’. My mum and I ran into Heather’s mum in the grocery store one day before the party. ‘Mrs. R’ gave her assurance that she would be home all night and my mum was not to worry. Little did we know that ‘home all night’ meant comatose on the couch with a joint in one hand and a beer in the other while Heather’s two older brothers and all their friends whooped it up. I’ll never forget walking through their house, stepping over puddles of spilled beer and around teenagers in varying states of inebriation, wondering where exactly Heather’s mum might be so I could let her know that a) someone had thrown a planter of geraniums in the pool and it looked like the fuchsia basket was next, and b) one of Heather’s brother’s friends had just vomited into her car through an open window, the unfortunate consequence of too much lemon gin consumed in too short a time period and now making a re-appearance.

I located Mrs. R. stretched out on the couch, eyes half-closed, silly grin on her face, a pipe smoking away in her hand, and a bottle of beer nestled in the crook of her arm. Our conversation went something like this:

Me: “Mrs. R? It looks like John has maybe thrown-up in your car…”

Mrs. R: (blissfully) “Hey everybody, Jane’s here! Everyone say ‘Hi’ to Jane!”

Me: “Ummmm Hi. Mrs. R. There’s a couple of your planters in the pool, too, but John appears to have…”

Mrs. R: (merrily) “Do you have something to drink? Hey, someone get Jane a drink!”

Me: “I’m good, thanks, but I thought you might want to know about John as it’s your car that…”

Mrs. R: (cheerfully) “I’d get you one myself but I’m into this couch and I’m not going anywhere!”

Me: “Ummm…your car…”

Mrs. R: “Hey! How’s your mother? Did she stay? Is she here?”

I didn’t stick around long enough to tell her that my mother would likely rather slide bamboo shoots under her own nails than attend this party.

Fortunately even we kids were sufficiently unimpressed with the evening’s events that we self-regulated and left the party on our own accord, one of us calling a parent and deftly suggesting that we would meet them at the bottom of the driveway as it was quite steep (so thoughtful!). We skipped out of there before Heather’s mum really scared us and started ripping the labels off the cans in her own cupboard in some kind of misguided act of solidarity with the teenagers hanging out in her kitchen.

I was quizzed the next day by my mum about how things had gone and why we were all home early. I said something about there being too many people there. Later I heard her on the phone to the mum of one of my friends who had an older brother. They were discussing all the kids in our neighbourhood and who could be trusted. I know now that she was squirreling this info away, just waiting for my younger brother’s long dark teenage years ahead.

I’m not sure I have a game plan for when Jacob starts attending parties. He’s been to a few already but nothing like the ones I used to attend. I’m sure I’ll blunder through it, just like my mum did, but hopefully armed with a bit more knowledge than she ever had. Like I’m pretty sure she didn’t know about lemon gin for example. I guess she couldn’t really have anticipated the state of Heather’s mum either. And that’s the bit that worries me. What don’t I know now? I might think I’ve got it all figured out but there are clearly going to be some info missing. I also know that today’s version of Lemon Gin is probably a whole lot more dangerous. (Although there was that warning on the label about possible blindness which we never actually knew about until later as we were too drunk to read it.) I just don’t want to learn this stuff the hard way. But I’m not sure there is another way.

So when Jacob is invited to a party and tells me that ‘their parents will totally be home’, I’ll probably drive right to the end of the driveway to drop him off and I may just head right on into the living room and see exactly what ‘at home’ means. And they don’t make Lemon Gin anymore, right?

Thanks for reading



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