We walked a walk and talked the talk – a bit early maybe.

Sage (my dog), Ryan (my son) and I went for a walk today and did some serious exchanging of ideas. Sage didn’t share much. He was somewhat preoccupied with the various dog pee smells in each and every tree trunk or light post that we encountered. Ryan and I did most of the talking. Ryan may well be seven years old, he is very wise for his age.

The conversation started with how summer was going;  is Ryan excited about second grade; is mom excited about her new job and such like. Then we moved on to the question of how the first tree was created and whether the trees that we see around us are the descendants of that first tree. Then next topic we discussed was how Sage’s shadow resembled one particular type of wolf, and my young scientist gravely declared that Sage has descended from that particular wolf who has left his shadow with Sage as an inheritance.

We got into serious grounds next – drinking alcohol. Sean and I don’t drink alcohol. I tried it as a youngster, never liked the taste, never felt the need for it in my life. Sean made a conscious choice to stay away from alcohol because he too didn’t feel the need to introduce that poison in his body. In fact, I heard this story on my wedding day from his friends:

“Your husband is a piece of work. He went to a bar in Costa Rica with friends and ordered a glass of milk!!!”

Ryan and Sahana have decided not to drink alcohol as well when they are adults.

On our walk, Ryan asked me if making the choice (of not drinking) was difficult and more importantly is it going to be hard for him when he grows up. Teaching moments, or rather talking moments like these don’t come up often in our hectic schedule. So I put it to good use.

For me, the choice was relatively easy. In the mid eighties India when I was a teenager, drinking was still considered a taboo among the middle class, especially for girls. Most of my girl friends abstained from drinking and the boy friends didn’t expect us to drink anyway, so there was not much peer pressure, or the need to conform. Sean had more of a difficult time growing up in America where drinking alcohol had more acceptance as a social norm. But after the initial ‘Come on man, just one drink’ people respected his choice and left him alone. They also appreciated his voluntary service as their designated driver after parties.

Ryan and Sahana, I believe will have more of a difficult time standing their ground, if they choose to stay away from alcohol, than we had. I say this because in first grade play ground  discussions, little boys and girls have already questioned Ryan about his choice, “You are so funny! Why won’t you ever drink? I have sipped from my parents’ drink, I like it!” I told him he is going to hear more of it as he becomes a teenager. Teenage drinking is a huge problem world wide. And really, what is the harm in one drink? One glass of red wine is even beneficial for health, I often hear. The harm is, one drink often becomes two and then becomes three. His strength of character will be sorely tested when and if he refuses drinks in people will back off and respect his choice if he stands his ground.

I am a firm believer in ‘live and let live’. I have made my choice in my life. I respect other ADULTS’ choice of enjoying their alcoholic beverage as long as they don’t harm others under its influence and don’t get behind the wheels after downing a few. We have spent way too many moments of silence in different sporting activities, in memories of teenagers who lost their lives to drunk driving. I am not going to go into statistics, it is out there right in front of our eyes.

Life is about making choices. My children will make a choice on this when they are at a legal drinking age (I hope). My job, as a parent, is to make sure they are aware of all the ill effects that alcohol has on human body and let them make an informed decision. All I can hope is my children stay away from it.  And if they don’t, then I hope they make good judgments of how much and when to stop. Most importantly, I hope they designate a driver!

6 thoughts on “We walked a walk and talked the talk – a bit early maybe.

  1. What you think and write is very sensible and I agree with all of it except for the factor of drinking as part of culture. When drinking with a meal is part of the enjoyment of the meal and exchanging social bonding, it is rare that people want to drink more than is good for them. Even the Bible encourages the drinking of wine (King James Bible (Cambridge Ed.) for instance:
    “Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities” and in Matthew 26/29 Jesus says he will drink the fruit of the vine in his Father’s kingdom. Psalm 104:15 talks about “wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man’s heart”. Read this blogpost too, if you like and have the time: http://pilgrimboy.hubpages.com/hub/The-Bible-on-Drinking-and-Wine. My big question is WHY do young people in the US and all over Europe want to drink themselves senseless as part of growing up ? I find it very sad and it speaks volume for our current society. Part of it seems to me that young people do not feel ‘free’ to ‘be’ themselves and when they drink they can take off that mask that they have to wear every day in order to conform or whatever. People who are happy to be themselves rarely get drunk even though they enjoy drinking!


  2. It always amazes me the similarities between us! My husband does not drink, and has never tasted alcohol. He does not feel the need to introduce fermented fruit juices into his body without any just cause other than intoxication which he abhors!

    I am a social drinker – but a very light one, two drinks is my limit. I never keep alcohol at home, and I never drink alone – it is only when out with friends. Am quite happy sipping my non alcoholic fruit juices. I have however seen the effects of alcohol up close. My father was a social drinker to start with, but towards the end of his life drink became one of the ways of dealing with stress and frustration. I never saw him “drunk” or act in a drunken way or smell any alcohol on him – he was far too suave for that. But yes he did drink heavily, and I fear if I do not control myself I will end up with the same bad habit. I choose therefore never to stock any alcohol at home. When you are feeling depressed, it almost becomes second nature to reach for that one glass of red wine (and one glass too many as I have learnt).

    Ryan and Sahana are bright intelligent kids. They have great role models in you and Sean. Yes the peer pressure is going to be humongous, but I think they will come through unscathed. I share your hopes that when they do come of the legal drinking age, they make a conscious informed decision, and no matter that that is – they designate a non drinker as the person in charge of driving home.

    Loved the post, felt like I was on that walk with you, wish I could have seen Sage’s wolflike shadow – and heard Ryan’s chirpy voice! You write with warmth and wisdom, and I adore reading you.


  3. Well, I’m glad you had this talk with Ryan! We live in such different times and the challenges that we never had to face at 7, we already need to prepare and equip our kids for. We don’t drink either. For a myriad of health reasons which continue to show that alchohol does in fact kill brain cells even in small amounts to increased risk of certain cancers, the number one reason why we don’t drink is because alchohol robs the person of his faculty of thought resulting in behaviour that does not correspond to human dignity.
    In Finland, 40% of women experience physical abuse from an intimate partner at some point in their lives, most of which are alchohol induced. Now, that is a very high number and so you can see that alchoholism is a rather serious social problem here.
    And of course, we are slowly teaching our kid that to become dependent on any substance (be it alchohol, cigarettes, food, tv etc) for comfort, happiness only harms ourselves long-term for short-term feelings of pleasure. So why go down that road in the first place.
    Thank you for this great post. And love to all at home! Thinking of you with much love, Sharon


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