We were on a drive home from one of my daughter’s many activities. Anne of Green Gables piped through the speakers in our car. Once again the little girl in the story was getting herself into a heap of trouble. This time for unknowingly serving her best friend wine when she thought she was giving her raspberry cordial.
If you aren’t familiar with the story, Anne’s friend Diane went home sick (drunk) and her mother forbid her to see Anne again.
“I didn’t mean to intoxicate her!” Anne explained in the story.
I can never quite tell how invested in the story my daughter is at any given time. Sometimes she’s asking me to pause the audio book every couple of minutes to explain a word or what’s going on. Lil’ J had been quiet in the back so I wasn’t sure if she understood what was happening, or if she was even paying attention.
So at the end of the chapter I was a little surprised when she asked. “What’s wine mama?”
The question didn’t catch me off guard given the story we were listening to, and we’ve talked about alcohol before, so I explained simply.
“It’s a drink with alcohol that adults sometimes drink.”
“Well why did it make Diane sick?”
“Well if you have too much, or if you’re too young it can make you feel really sick.”
She understood in the story the little girl drank it by mistake, but she wasn’t quite sure why Marilla had it in the home in the first place.
“Some grownups like to drink it,” I explained. “Some people like the way it tastes.”
“What does it look like?” She asked me. I described a wine bottle, and wine glasses—She’s seen them at our house because I like to drink sparkling cider out of wine glasses. I told her that we didn’t have alcohol in her house, but what it might look similar someplace else.
“If I see it, what should I do?” She started. “Should I run away?”
“No, you don’t have to do that,” I told her. “But if it’s sitting some place that a kid could accidentally drink some you should tell me and a grownup who is nearby.”
Finally she had reached a point of understanding that she was happy with.
“Ok, you can play the next chapter,” she resumed.
It’s conversations like these I hope we continue through her youth. Sincere questions met with honest answers. I want her to feel comfortable coming to me to fact-check things she hears from her friends.
This year I joined the joined the Responsibiility.org #TalkEarly ambassador team. One of our goals is to help encouraging parents to create a lifetime of conversations surrounding alcohol starting with kids as young as 6-9 years old. My daughter is right in that age where these conversations begin.
We don’t even have alcohol in our home, but that doesn’t keep questions about it from coming up.
Last year I went to a compelling summit and heard from Dr. Shefali’s who said something that really stuck with me: “Connection comes before correction, busy schedules and achievement.”
I need to make sure I’m making these connections with our children now. Listening, being honest with our answers, and being a safe haven of trust. Then hopefully years later when our milestones are much slower but our problems seem bigger, we can handle them together.
*I’m passionate about building strong relationships with our children and being there for the important conversations. That is why I partnered with #TalkEarly on this post. Stay tuned in the coming months for more on this important topic.