Brian’s five-year-old, pip-squeak voice piped up from the backseat, “Mom, what are drugs? What do they look like? How do drugs make you feel? Why do people take drugs? Have you ever taken drugs?” My friend, Mindy, kept a steady hand on the wheel while thoughts pinged through her head with machine gun-like rapid fire: What the? Oh, Sh-t! Isn’t it a little early for this sort of inquiry? Why is he asking me these questions? Where is this coming from? How truthful do I need to be? What was it that parenting class said about handling kids’ out-of-the-blue, tough questions? Oh yeah, breathe, gather information, calmly tell him only what is necessary to satisfy his curiosity, then divert his attention to more innocuous subjects without lying, if possible. A half-truth is definitely alright in this case. Okay, I can do this.
“Why do you ask, honey?” asked Mindy. Turns out that Mindy’s Mom, who sometimes takes care of Brian, uses the time-tested strategy of many modern day Grandparents caring for energetic, young children while their own children are out doing something fun, they plop those little suckers down in front of the television and encourage them to quietly catch up on the local news with Grandma rather than tearing the house apart.
Calling the local news “news” these days is charitable at best. It’s more like a laundry list of salacious, fear-inducing, sensational stories that the “journalists” were able to put together that day, usually chock full of cheesy stunts and props just to add to the theater of it all. As my reporter friend says, “if it bleeds, it leads.” So Mindy’s Mom was getting her daily fix of scaring the crap out of herself when a story about Senior U.S. District Court Judge Jack Camp came on. It was yet another of those all-too-common stories of someone in a position of power and authority partying like a reckless rock star the minute he leaves the respectable space of his public life, and taking ramped up risks until he crashes and burns. Apparently, when he wasn’t handing down harsh sentences from the bench in his courtroom, His Honor had developed a taste for a stripper as his piece on the side, cocaine, marijuana, and prescription pills, and his fall-from-grace story is precisely the kind that the “news” organizations love to feature.
This particular story had created a whole bunch of questions in Brian’s young brain. After hearing what led to his incessant questioning, and cursing her Mom under her breath, Mindy began to try and answer / divert. “Well, Bri, drugs are medicine. You know, like pills that the doctor gives you. Why do people take drugs? Sometimes people take them because they are feeling nervous or anxious and they want to feel a little calmer and more relaxed. On the other hand, sometimes people feel a little too relaxed and they want to have more energy, so different drugs or medicines have different effects on people. I have taken drugs, you know, medicine that was given to me by my doctor. Remember when I was in that car accident and my back was hurt? I took medicine then to help make my back feel better.
Brian, with a perplexed look on his face finally spoke up one last time and said, “but Mom, what about the milk drugs and the orange juice drugs?” “Milk drugs and orange juice drugs? What are you talking about?” asked Mindy. “You know, the milk drugs and the orange juice drugs that we have at our house. What about them?” said Brian. “Brian, I think you mean jugs not drugs”, said Mindy.
“Seriously?!” she said to herself.